Schuman Cheese processes more than 80 million lbs of cheese annually at its two facilities in Fairfield, New Jersey, and Elgin, Illinois.
The use of X-ray detection in food processing, especially in the dairy industry, has increased as food safety standards have become more regimented. In addition, cheese manufacturers have seen a surge in demand with the US cheese market projected to reach $105.1bn by 2019, according to Transparent Market Research, making the need for reliable contaminant and quality inspection more crucial.
Prior to installing an X-ray detection system by Eagle Product Inspection, Schuman Cheese relied on metal detectors to prevent metal contamination but experienced a high number of “false rejects” during the process.
False rejects typically occur in the production of high-moisture products such as cheese because of increased conductivity levels.
“False rejects were slowing the production line, wasting product and reducing profits due to the loss of productivity,” Vincent Angiolillo, Schuman Cheese VP of engineering and R&D strategic initiatives, said.
“Production doesn’t stop so if one of our metal detectors was down, products were collected offline and run through the system at a later time, which was very labor intensive.”
Implementing X-ray technology
Schuman Cheese decided to invest in two X-ray detection systems, Eagle’s Pack 430 PRO, because of the technology’s ability to detect and reject glass shards, metal fragments, calcified bone as well as some plastic and rubber compounds.
Both machines are stationed at critical control points at the end of two parallel production lines where they are used for final inspection of various types of grated cheese (including Parmesan, Locatelli and Romano) after they are filled in plastic containers, capped, and sealed.
Approximately 40 to 45 products are inspected for contaminants per minute on each line and the machines’ checkweighing feature is also utilized to detect underweight containers.
“As well as increasing uptime, the machines have dramatically reduced the number of false rejects, virtually eliminating the amount of product that needs to be resent for inspection,” Angiolillo said.
Schuman Cheese has also recently upgraded the software and hardware on its Pack 430 PRO to gain better access to reports and statistics that can be viewed in real time, the company said.
Protecting brand quality
In response to the increased incidents of adulteration and fraud in the Italian hard cheese category, Schuman Cheese created the “True Cheese” trust seal for quality and food safety assurance.
High performance product inspection to ensure that cheese product does not contain any non-cheese ingredients is critical to achieving the “True Cheese” seal, and the use of X-ray technology has helped achieve that level of product quality assurance, the company said.