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Frozen ready-meal manufacturer benefits from Mettler-Toledo x-ray inspection


Increasingly, food retailers expect suppliers to be ‘trusted partners’ and to work in tandem with them to ensure that codes of practice are met at all times. This is particularly true when it comes to contamination. Retail chains expect suppliers to commit to achieving the highest standards of food quality through investment in the latest inline technologies, enabling them to secure customer loyalty and repeat purchases.

From the food manufacturer’s perspective, inline inspection technologies may be critical for safety and brand reputation, but they also need to keep pace with a wider variety of products and more intricate styles of packaging, as well as higher production speeds and more product on the line.

This was certainly the case for Zinetti Food Products, which manufactures gourmet lasagnes and other prepared entrees that are available in the frozen food sections of Costco and other retailers across the US and Canada. The need to keep up with demand meant that ongoing professional support from a product inspection specialist was just as important as the technology’s capabilities in their decision to invest in a Mettler-Toledo x-ray inspection system.

“We started looking for an x-ray system several years ago,” explains Ash Engele, Maintenance Manager at Zinetti Foods. “We installed a unit from another supplier on a trial basis in 2008, but we got a lot of false rejects and decided it wouldn’t work for us. Because of this bad experience we put the project on hold.”

“Recently, we decided to revisit the idea. We sent samples to three suppliers and Mettler-Toledo were the first to get data back to us. They said their system could handle our products easily.” Given their previous experience, Zinetti Foods wanted a supplier that could provide a local technician to ensure system reliability: a criterion that Mettler-Toledo was able to meet through local partner MD Packaging.

Frozen ready-meal manufacturer benefits from Mettler-Toledo x-ray inspection

Having reviewed their requirements to ensure they had a perfect fit, their local Mettler-Toledo technician recommended a Safeline X33 product inspection system. The X33 offers outstanding detection sensitivity to help identify metal, glass, calcified bone, stones and other dense foreign material, enabling the system to remove contaminated product from the production line. It can also measure gross mass for portion control, inspect for packaging defects and can detect product trapped within the seal.

Zinetti Foods selected a Safeline X3302. This model is wider than the standard X33 and features a 400mm wide belt that can handle the full range of Zinetti products; from a large 3kg family size meal to the 300g single serve meals.

“Sometimes we run the same product for an entire shift and sometimes we have several products to run,” says Engele. “The x-ray system is the easiest machine on our line to change over. It takes a few seconds on the control panel to select the next product from the memory, and it’s calibrated at the push of a button – without having to send product through. The touchscreen is very easy to use. Our operators like the icons and the product lists and images. They find this x-ray system very straightforward.”

Colleague Azin Kad, HACCP Co-ordinator at Zinetti Foods, appreciates the different levels of password protection offered by the X3302. He says: “An operator cannot create or delete a product, but Zinetti engineers and QA personnel are allowed deeper access to the controls.” The system was installed by MD Packaging, who also supplied training. Says Engele: “Our local service tech is very knowledgeable. It’s good to know that if we run into any issues we can’t solve, he can be here quickly to get us back up and running.”

Zinetti Foods relies on a lot of outside vendors for ingredients, so the possibility for a stone or shard of glass to enter the supply chain is an ongoing challenge. Says Engele: “As we grow, we put more product out there for the public to consume, which increases our risk along with our volume. This x-ray inspection system is another step toward ensuring food safety. It gives us and our retail customers confidence that we’re maintaining the highest product quality. “At Zinetti Foods, we go above and beyond making great tasting food that people enjoy. We make sure our food is safe so they keep coming back for more.”

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