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Seminar on

Metal Detectors in Food Industries

Presented By- Aman Paul

M. Tech. Food Technology-Food Chain
Roll No.-10MTFTFC005

Presented To- Department of Food Process

SHIATS, Allahabad (U. P.)

S.No. Topic Page
1. Acronyms 3
2. Objective of Seminar 4
3. Introduction 5
a. Metal Contaminant 6
b. Sources of Metal Contamination in 6
c. Need of Metal Contaminant’s 8
4. Metal Detection Devices 9
a. Basic Principle of Metal Detector 10
5. Factors Affecting Working of 12
Metal Detector
a. Contaminant Factors 13
b. Detector Factors 15
c. Installation Factors 17
d. Product Factors 20
e. Electronic Factors 20
6. Alignment of Metal Detector 21
with FSMS Plan
a. Action in Case of Deviation 22
7. Limitations of Metal Detectors 23
8. References 24


E - Electromagnetic Force
Φ - Magnetic Flux
T - Time
Wb - Webber
Sec - Second
V - Volt
B - Magnetic Flux Density
A - Ampere
N - Newton
m - Meter
a - Area
μ - Magnetic Permeability
μo - Magnetic Permeability of Substance in Space
μr - Relative Magnetic Permeability of Medium
ρ - Resistivity
σ - Conductivity

Objective of Seminar

1. Studying basic working principle of metal


2. Observing the basic causes of false detections

by metal detector.

3. How metal detectors are aligned with the

HACCP program.

Food technology is moving towards a new era, of
food safety. With the increasing zeal of consumer
towards food awareness, the safety has become the
prime concern of every firm. Implementation of
GMP’s and HACCP program has oriented the
industry towards a new dawn. Such programs
mainly emphasize on the microbial, physical and
chemical safety of the processed food stuffs. With
the globalization of firms, the continuous exporting
and importing of food products throughout the
world has become common. In such a situation
food safety has become important, not only from
consumer point of view but also in tagging up of
the firm’s global image. International standards
such as ISO 9001 and ISO 22000 aided the global
standardization process.

Food safety consists of the underling of the food

hazards, irradicating or reducing them to
acceptance limit and further prevention. The
hazards may be physical, chemical or biological. In
this seminar we will mostly focus on the detection
of physical hazards that can be detected on the
basis of there electrical and magnetic properties,
i.e. we will talk about the detection of metallic
particles in food processing industry.

Metal Contaminants

Metal contaminants are physical hazards that

could cause serious internal damages to the body
when accidentally consumed. A particle of size
greater than 2mm can cut all the way when it
enters the mouth, proceeding from throat to
stomach and so on. These cuts cause internal
bleeding and even death. They can enter through
various sources in the food.

Sources of Metal Contamination in Food

There are many channels the metal contaminants

can follow to enter the food. Few of them are
listed below:-

1. Raw Material- The raw material can itself be

contaminated at the primal level. The
contaminants can enter the chain while the
processes of harvesting, threshing, drying,
storing, etc. are being carried out. Talking
about the Indian scenario, there are no check
points in the farms as such. This makes the
post harvest activities of raw material really
prone to metallic contamination.

2. Transportation- Fresh produce of fruits and

vegetables are usually transported in crates
which may be open and exposed to the
environment to facilitate metabolic activities,
this increases the risk of metallic
contamination in the food.

3. Processing- During processing the metal

contamination can occur through processing
equipments, exposed lines, etc. The food
contact surfaces of the equipments may serve
as a source of metal inoculation in the food

4. Packaging- Packaging infrastructure is a

complex unit in itself, which has many
potential areas where metal contamination can
occur. For example, any screw can fall from
the equipment into the product. This is the
most common source of contamination from
the packaging unit, as the machine is
continuously vibrating so there are chances
that any of the screw loosen up and
contaminate food.

Need of Metal Contaminant’s Detection

The following reasons necessite the need of

metal detection:-

1. Social Responsibility- As we have seen in the

above article that the metal contaminants
when consumed can even cause death. So it is
a social responsibility of every food
technologists to exclude all such
contaminations for humanity.

2. Consumer Safety- Consumer is investing his

trust in the company by buying the product,
and if his trust is lost it will let him move
towards jurisdiction.

3. Firm’s Image- Global players often loose

there image if they encounter any food safety
remarks on there brand, these could even
uproot there international brand image.

Metal Detection Devices

The most commonly used metal detection devices
1. Sifters
2. Metal Detectors
3. X-rays

Sifters are used to eliminate particles of size either

greater than or smaller than that of food. But sifters
are ineffective when the contaminations are inside
the food stuff. This makes there use very rare in the
X-rays have now become old fashioned.
As the debate regarding exposure of food to
irradiation is still incomplete and safety concern of
food irradiations are highlighted the X-rays have
departed there way out of the food industry as a
potential metal detection device.
Metal detectors working
on the electromagnetic principle have now replaced
sifters and X-ray utilizing devices. These metal
detectors have now become the soul of every Food
Safety Management System (FSMS). Now lets see
how these metal detectors really function and the
factors affecting there working.

Basic Principle of Metal Detector

1. Metal detector works on the “Faraday’s Law

of Electromagnetic Induction”. According to
this law “whenever the magnetic flux linked with
an electric circuit is altered and electromagnetic
force is induced in the circuit”.

E = - dΦ/dT Unit of E = Wb/Sec (Volts)

Here the Magnetic Flux (Φ) is the magnetic

lines passing through a given area.

Φ = B.a.cosϴ

Where “ϴ” is the angle between a normal area

“a” and direction of B.

2. Construction- The basic construction of a

metal detector is shown below.

Transmitting coil

Metal Strike
Receiving coil

The transmitting coil generates a high frequency

magnetic field, while the two receiving coils pick
up the oscillating field. The receiving coils are
connected to display and alarm.

3. Schematic Block Diagram

Signal Comparison Alarm if

Generation with Signal
Threshold >Threshold


4. Functioning
a. In a normal state magnetic field coupled is
equally to both coils. Therefore a balanced
condition exists so no signal is generated
on display.
b. When the contaminant enters, it distorts
the magnetic field, which upsets the
balanced condition and a signal is
detected, which is displayed on the
display-screen connected to the receiving
c. This signal is compared to the threshold, if
it is above the threshold, the alarm rings.

Factors Affecting Working of

Metal Detector

The following factors affect the working of metal

detector devices:-

1). Contaminant Factors

a. Material
b. Size and Shape

2). Product Factors

a. Moisture
b. Undried/Lumpy
c. Recipe (Minerals)

3). Installation Factors

a. Vibration
b. Clearance
c. EM/RF Interferences
d. Metal Free Zone
e. Earthing

4). Electronic Factors

a. Threshold
b. Signal Processing
c. Calibration

5). Detector Factors

a. Position
b. Orientation
c. Aperture Size
d. Head Frequency

Let’s discuss every factor one by one.

Contaminant Factors

a. The most important factor affecting working of

metal detector is the contaminant material. The key
properties essential for metal detection are:-

1. Electrical Conductivity- is the ability of

a body to conduct electricity.
σ = 1/ρ

2. Magnetic Permeability- Measure of the

ability of substance to support the
formation of magnetic field.
μ = μo x μr

The magnetic properties play a more dominant

property in detection.

Below is the decreasing order of conductivity of

some metals:
Good Conductors
( σ)
Chromium Bad Conductors
Lead ( σ)

Property Matrix

b. Another factor that affects the working is size

and shape of the contaminant material. It is usually
observed that spherical objects are detected with
more difficulty and wires are detected easily.

Detector Factors

a. Orientation effect-

1. Easy for non-ferrous 1. Easy for ferrous

2. Difficult for ferrous 2. Difficult for non-

b. Position effect-

At centre magnetic field

is weak and objects are
difficult to detect

At sides the magnetic

field is the strongest and
easily detected

d. Aperture size- Lower the aperture size,

higher is the sensitivity of metal detector
and vice-versa.


e. Head Frequency-

Higher the Lower the

Frequency, Frequency,
Higher the Lower the
Sensitivity Sensitivity

Rates of Detects
False Stainless
Rejectio Steel

Installation Factors

a.Metal Free Zones- This place a very important

role in the proper functioning of the metal detector.
The Metal free Zones are classified in two

MFZ 1 (For non moving metal particles)

MFZ 2 (For moving metal particles)


MFZ 1 (For non moving metal particles)

MFZ 2 (For moving metal particles)


b. Vibrations- High level of mechanical vibrations

causes an increase in the number of false strikes.

c. Clearance- Here clearance can be detected as the

vertical distance from throat to chute. It should be
at least 10mm. Clearance is necessary for
performing of validation test and for
expansion/movement of flexible product chute.

d. Electromagnetic/Radio Frequency Interference


Another Mobile
Detector Phone and
(AM Walkie
Receiver) Talkie

Clutch/Brake Fluorescent
and Power Lamp

Note- Metal detectors are very sensitive to AM

radio receiver.

Product Factors

a. Moisture- Water is a good conductor of

electricity. It may cause a false metal strike,
if moisture is present in high concentration.
Rejected products may test negative after a
few days as the particles could have been
broken or product dry up. So it detection gets

b. Recipe- If the product is rich in mineral matter,

faulty metal detections often appear at a fast rate.

Electronic Factors

Factors such as detection threshold, fault in signal

processing system and calibration error also plays
important role in the proper functioning of metal

Alignment of Metal Detector with


In current scenario, metal detector has become an

active part of all FSMS plans. Metal detector has
turned out into a CCP essential. It is used to track
particles of size more than 1mm.

The online testing of metal detectors should be

carried out in the following manner:-

1. Hazard- Metal Particles

2. Location- All filing lines
3. Specification- Correct functioning of metal
detection system and should detect operating
limit defined by the factory. Critical Limit is
SS 2.0mm.
Note- The test piece should be spherical and
certified by the supplier for both operational and
critical limits.

CCP monitoring procedure:-

1. Check proper functioning of metal detector at
least once per shift with standard spherical
test pieces of operational limit.
2. Ensure that the product incriminated by the
metal detector is kept separately and sorted by
offline metal detectors.

3. Metal retrieved from the rejections are

retained and root cause analysis is done.
4. Record for online testing, offline testing and
retrieved metal pieces.
5. In case of increasing number of metal
retrievance proper correcting action should be
taken by the production/engineering section.

Action in Case of Deviation

1. Incase the metal detector fails in the routine

check, than stop the line.
2. Check the detector with 2mm SS, if it passes
than release the product since last check and
recalibrate the detector.
3. If detectors fails with 2mm SS, block the
product since last check.
4. Pass the product through offline metal
5. Incinerate the rejections and rework the
unrejected ones.

Limitations of Metal Detectors


Sensitivity Installation

To be detected
the metal
Can only diameter
is affected by
detect metal should be Needs a bigger
noise and
contaminants greater than vertical space


1. www.metaldetection.com/subtwo140.html

2. www.wikipedia.en/metaldetector.html

3. Gaur, R.K. and Gupta, S.L. 2003.

Engineering Physics. Dhanpat Rai

4. Potter, N.N. and Hotchkiss, J.H. 2007.

Food Science. CBS Publishers &

5. Alli, I. 2004. Quality Assurance:Principles

and Practices. CRC Press LLC.