Bakery Relies on Metal Detectors to Ensure Food Quality

Ellison Bakery, a family-owned and operated manufacturer of cookies and cookie-based crunch and inclusion products in Fort Wayne, Ind., has found a sweet recipe for success. Despite today’s challenging economic environment, Ellison Bakery is thriving. Sales grew 39% in 2008 and are already up 24% this year. The company attributes its success to its focus on superior customer care and its dedication to producing premium quality product. To ensure the highest level of food safety, the bakery relies on metal detectors from Mettler-Toledo Safeline.

“We’ve currently got three Safeline metal detectors on our production lines, and a fourth one is going onto a new line now,” said Jon Ellis, plant manager. “Since we’ve had great success with our existing Safeline systems, we didn’t even consider another supplier when it was time to add this new one. We’ve always been thrilled with the reliability of this equipment and the responsiveness of the service.”

Ellison Bakery operates two ovens producing cookies sold to distributors that serve institutions such as schools and nursing homes. A portion of the cookies from one oven is diverted to grinders and sifters that produce cookie-based crunch and inclusion products; these go to food processors such as ice cream manufacturers and nutritional companies making power bars. Currently, these products are all packed in bulk; bag-in-box packages range in size from five to 36 pounds. The new line now going in will package cookies in bags ranging in size from two to 22 ounces, marking Ellison Bakery’s launch of a retail product.

Product Inspected for Metal

“We inspect product for metal on the processing lines, so if a problem is found, we’re only removing product and not investing in a package that ends up being discarded. We inspect at the end of the processing line, immediately prior to packaging, to assure the highest product quality and food safety,” said Ellis.

One 48-inch wide conveyorized PowerPhasePLUS metal detector follows the cooling conveyors after one oven, and a 39-inch wide conveyorized PowerPhasePLUS follows the cooling conveyors after the other oven. All products produced at the plant—1,500,000 cookies per hour—pass through one of these two inspection systems. Because some cookies continue on to further processing to become crunch and inclusion products, Ellison Bakery takes the added precaution of inspecting these products again. After the grinders and sifters, a Gravity Flow metal detector ensures that no metal was picked up during those processes.

Ellis said his bakery’s production standards are more stringent than the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires. “We believe that the guidelines adopted by the government do not reflect the best industry practices, and it’s our position, in an effort to constantly exceed our customers’ expectations, to always look to do the best we can at everything we do.”

High Frequency Coils

To consistently achieve superior detection sensitivity, the PowerPhasePLUS metal detector features high frequency coil technology and advanced head geometry that detects all types of metal contamination, from common ferrous and non-ferrous metals to the most difficult-to-detect stainless steel fragments. To virtually eliminate false rejects, a Faraday screen, located between the detector coil system and the product being inspected, filters out signals that might interfere.

The Gravity Flow metal detector features patented zero metal free zone (ZMFZ) technology that reduces the length of the in-feed pipe and allows the reject device to be positioned close to the detector without interference or false rejects. ZMFZ technology minimizes the overall height of the system while maximizing detection sensitivity. A cowbell-style reject valve, which incorporates high-speed pneumatics with a cushioned cylinder, ensures accurate removal of contaminants while minimizing system leakage.

“We measure the success of the metal detectors in terms of accuracy, uptime, and false rejects,” Ellis said. “That, and the most important measure: the fact that we have not had a single customer complaint regarding metal in our product since the systems were installed.”

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