Safeway Fresh Foods is a family-owned food processor of healthy snacks and meals that go to market under the company’s Sunnyside Farms brand and customers’ private labels. Food quality and safety are the top priorities at every step, which is why Safeway relies on eight metal detectors and one X-ray system as well as three checkweighers, all from METTLER TOLEDO Production Inspection Group, on nine production lines.

“This inspection equipment protects our consumers. It also protects the owner of the finished product and us, the supplier,” says Sal Tedesco, co-owner of Safeway Fresh Foods. “METTLER TOLEDO’s equipment is very dependable and easy to maintain. We’ve had great success with it despite our hostile environment.”

This year, Safeway added three lines, which include three Safeline Signature Touch metal detectors and a Hi-Speed Beltweigh XC checkweigher that inspect packages of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables. A Safeline Certus X-ray system was installed in 2012 to inspect five-pound bulk packages of protein-based salads such as chicken salad, tuna salad, egg salad and more.

“We chose METTLER TOLEDO’s X-ray system for our bulk salad line instead of a metal detector because we wanted to find bone and gristle in the chicken salad in addition to metal contamination in all products,” explains Tedesco. “The X-ray identifies unexpected differences in the product’s density and kicks those packages out. We adjust the detection sensitivity to perfectly suit each of the products that run on that line.”

Product changeovers are frequent at Safeway, so the equipment needs to be versatile. While the bulk line is dedicated to five-pound tubs, the other eight lines, which all rely on metal detectors, handle packages from four ounces to five pounds in size for convenience stores, supermarkets and club stores, as well as quick-serve restaurants and others.

“It’s critical that the metal detectors maintain their high sensitivity despite big changes in the size of the package and the nature of the product. This sensitivity is the difference between finding something and not finding something that could break a tooth or lacerate a mouth,” says Tedesco. 

The metal detectors find ferrous and non-ferrous tramp metal and the most-difficult-to-detect, non-magnetic stainless steel fragments and non-spherical fine wire contaminants. To ensure consistent detection sensitivity, Safeway tests every metal detector at the beginning of each shift and periodically during every production run.

Safeway has installed Hi-Speed checkweighers on three lines where detecting underfills and/or overfills has significant value. One line produces mixed-fruit trays and bowls. With five people on the line, each adding fruit to the two-pound trays or three-pound bowls, the line’s checkweigher is programmed to detect underweight packages, so fruit can be added before the package is sealed. On two grab-and-go lines that pack fresh fruits and vegetables into three- to 14-ounce bags, bowls and trays, the checkweighers detect underfills and overfills. Underweight packages are rejected from the line. Overweight packages are recorded, giving Safeway information to use to adjust the fillers and reduce product giveaway.

For more information: Sarrina Crowley, 813-889-9500,