Metal detectable plastics use in cleaning tools and utensils

Posted: 14 October 2016 | | No comments yet

Global Hygiene Specialist at Vikan, Debra Smith describes the use of metal detectable plastics in cleaning tools and utensils.


Foreign body contamination of foods can be a safety or quality issue, or both. Regardless, if a food is contaminated by a foreign body the repercussions for the food business can be expensive and damaging.

Metal detection is a well established and effective method of reducing the risk of metal fragments in commercial food products. Control of plastic foreign bodies is more difficult. Metal detectable plastics have been developed with the intention that metal detectors can also be used for their detection but how detectable are these plastics? Many food manufacturers are unaware that the metal detectability of any metal containing foreign body will depend on a number of factors, including the following:

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  • Metal content of the contaminant; both the quantity and type of metal
  • Size of the metal containing contaminant
  • Orientation of the metal containing contaminant
  • The food product – size, composition
  • Food packaging
  • Speed of the conveyor belt
  • Detector used
  • Detector calibration. 

Each of these interfering factors has an effect on the detectability of the metal containing contaminant and the interferences are often cumulative, as illustrated in Figure 1.


Figure 1: Factors affecting the metal detectable threshold

Consequently, metal detection systems do not give 100% security even with regard to the detection of totally ferrous metal objects. Additionally, metal detection systems cannot detect non-metallic items such as bone, glass, or stone.

The metal detectable plastics used in the construction of food industry standard utensils and cleaning equipment only contain a small percentage of metal detectable material. Consequently, metal detection systems only work if the fragments of this equipment are large enough to detect (given other detector limitations).

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