Food Engineering

Case Study<br>Metal detectors crack a nutty problem

April 4, 2003
After installation, nut producer's liability dropped significantly.

A leading U.S. nut producer encountered a particularly unusual product contamination problem recently when shotgun pellets were discovered inside the nuts themselves.

Paramount Farms of Lost Hills, Calif., is the largest producer of pistachios in the U.S. and additionally supplies almonds and fruit roll-ups. The metal contamination was the result of hunters in the surrounding orchards who indiscriminately fire their weapons. Blossoms can trap a pellet so that when the nut is finally formed, it encompasses the lead shot.

Paramount Farms packs poly bags, PET jars and whole cases with nuts for confectionary and ice cream producers. Obviously, the metal contaminants posed a serious risk to the health of consumers.

The company contracted with Lock Inspections Systems Inc., a designer and manufacturer of metal detection and checkweighing equipment, to explore methods to reduce the incidence of consumer complaints prompted by birdshot pellets embedded in individual nutmeats. Additionally, management was concerned about product give-away in individual packages.

After studying the problem, Lock Inspection Systems recommended the Lock Met 30 combination metal detector with CE 301 checkweigher operating in tandem. The equipment guarantees rejection of contaminated packs and reduces product give away. Packs are passed through the metal detector and rejected bags are opened later so that individual nuts can be scanned to locate the metal fragments or lead.

After installation of the systems, Paramount's liability claim declined significantly. In addition, 12 additional Met 30 detectors were installed in almond and fruit-roll processing lines.

Lock Inspection Systems Inc., 207 Authority Drive, Fitchburg, MA 1420 6094. Tel. (978) 343 3716; fax (978) 343 6278
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