Plan Automation Technology Blog

Will X-Ray Food Inspection Affect My Food’s Organic Status?

Posted by PLAN Automation Blog on Tue, Feb 9, 2016 @ 14:02 PM

Organic_Food.jpgIn recent years, the popularity of “organic” foods have grown immensely. Many consumers go out of their way to purchase organic foods at the market now. In fact, according to one article, “Sales of the additive-free offerings surged 11.5% in 2013, to #35.1 billion.”

With demand for organic fruits, vegetables, and meat products on the rise, many food companies are looking for the ability to add the “organic” label to their products.

Because having the organic label can be a big boost for a product’s success, one question that Plan Automation’s customers often ask is “will x-ray inspection affect my product’s organic status?”

Organic Food Standards

Meeting the requirements for organic status on food products is tough.

For example, not only do fruits and vegetables sold as organic have to be free of any type of GMO modifications and avoid the use of specific pesticides/fertilizers, they have to meet specific handling restrictions.

Livestock can also be assigned organic status. However, animals that are listed as organic have to be fed specific diets and be given a minimum amount of time in the pasture, among other requirements.

To list all of the standards for being able to put the “certified organic” label on any given food product would take much more than a single blog post. You can find the National Organic Program Handbook on the website for specific information about organic requirements.

Will X-Ray Inspection Cause Scanned Food to Lose its Organic Status?

The short answer to this question is “no.” Inspecting your produce or meat products with an x-ray machine will not cause it to lose its organic status.

Why is this?

The primary reason why is that although x-ray product inspection uses radiation to take a picture of a product, the amount of radiation that any product is exposed to is incredibly minimal.

A study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1997 demonstrated that radiation exposure levels of up to 10,000 Sieverts (Sv, which is the common unit of radiation dose measurement) had no effect on the safety or nutritional value of food products.

An x-ray machine’s radiation dose output is measured in microsieverts (μSv). Typically, since food is exposed to the x-ray radiation for less than a second, any given food product is only exposed to 1.5 μSv of radiation. Since one Sievert is equal to 100,000 μSv, that means that you could expose food to over 600 million x-ray scans without affecting its quality or safety.

Benefits of X-Ray Inspection for Food

Using x-ray product inspection for food and beverage products provides numerous benefits for packaged food manufacturers.

For example, x-ray inspection can:

  • Detect embedded contaminants such: metal, glass, stone, bone, high density plastic/rubber, etc.
  • Detect small shards of glass that would be nearly invisible to the naked eye.
  • Detect non-metalic contaminants that metal detectors would miss.
  • Be used to determine the chemical lean (CL) value of meat products (when using DEXA machines).
  • Detect quality defects such as the weight of products and packages.

All of which can be done safely and reliably without impacting the organic status of the product being inspected. So, inspect away, your food will still be just as healthy and tasty as before, while enjoying the added protection of x-ray food inspection!

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Topics: Food Safety and Quality Inspection, Product Inspection