Precise contaminant in raw poultry inspection and bone detection is a prerequisite for food safety and detecting bone fragments has become a ‘daily challenge’ for the poultry industry, with demand for white meat racing ahead of beef and pork.
Low cost of production and the perception that poultry is healthier than red meat has seen chicken and turkey demand rise around the globe. However, as most birds are slaughtered before they reach full maturity, bone density is low which makes detecting fragments hard to detect while processing.
This is a considerable challenge for the poultry industry as it gears up to meet the demand for boneless white meat, which the OECD projects will account for more than half of the growth in all meat production over the next decade.
With more poultry set to flow through factories as the world tries to meet rising demand, detecting bones early is a challenge. Present-day detection rates for bone, in supposedly ‘boneless’ chicken meat, achieved by human inspectors are far worse than retailers are prepared to admit.
The industry globally is also struggling with the problem of recruiting and retaining workers for poultry processing. Poultry processing factories are challenging places to work in, they are cold and wet and manual de-boning can lead to repetitive strain injury.
As a result, using X-ray machines which can help in the detection of physical contaminants such as bone is now an integral part of the production process.
But the automatic inspection of poultry meat using X-rays alone is a challenging application for machine vision. The meat product is highly variable and moving at high speed and the bones, particularly the bones of younger birds, are of low contrast.
Eagle Product Inspection
While earlier generations of x-ray inspection systems achieved mixed results, there has been an impressive improvement in x-ray technology recently, in particular with the release of the next generation of MDX technology from Eagle Product Inspection.
Eagle PI is a leading manufacturer of inspection and analysis systems. Eagle has been a pioneer in the development and support of x-ray systems for more than 20 years, the company has thousands of systems successfully installed globally and has the widest range of inspection solutions for the meat industry including: inline fat analysis, bulk pipeline and package inspection systems.
Eagle has a team of experts and partners, such as Pharmafoods, around the globe that ensures they are on top of the poultry industry’s needs, challenges and changes.
MDX – The Global Standard for Raw Poultry Inspection
Material Discrimination X-ray, or MDX, was introduced by Eagle in 2005 and is now seen as the global standard for meat inspection. MDX is a patented software algorithm that uses differential x-ray absorbance to discriminate between organic and inorganic materials.
Generally, it is very difficult to find bone contaminants in chicken breasts with ordinary dual and/or single energy detectors. The next generation of MDX detectors from Eagle PI accurately detects smaller bone fragments with an unprecedented accuracy rate through advances in both equipment and algorithm design.
These innovations have been incorporated into Eagle’s proprietary image processing software, SimulTaskTM, allowing Eagle to significantly enhance the greyscale values between bone contaminants vs. a chicken breast, making bone fragments more distinguishable and easier to detect.
As a result, the next generation Eagle MDX technology is able to distinguish between the contrast caused by variations in product’s thickness and the ones caused by other elements. The machine can tell whether the darker spot in the image is caused by thicker parts of the chicken breast or by an actual contaminant such as bones or metal.
In fact, this powerful imaging processing system delivers up to 4 times resolution enhancement providing for 99% bone detection accuracy. As a result previously undetectable non-bone material and considerably smaller bone fragments can now easily be detected during the production process.
As a result, true positive and true negative identification rates are significantly improved, increasing contaminant detection and reducing costs associated with off-line product rework operations. Not only that, but these results are repeatable, reliable and proven.
Eagle RMI 400 – X-ray inspection System for Raw and Unpackaged product
This new MDX technology has been incorporated into the RMI 400 x-ray inspection system. The innovative ‘no curtain’ design of the RMI 400 coupled with its hygienic construction, including IP69 ingress protection rating, makes this the ideal inspection solution for poultry processors where the easy and efficient cleaning and daily sanitation of equipment is a mandatory requirement.
Food safety and retailer specifications demand precise contaminant and bone detection. The Eagle RMI 400 x-ray inspection system has been designed to meet strict food processing, meat, and poultry industry standards required for machine construction and sanitation; including ingress protection compliant with IP69 specifications.
The innovative inclined conveyor design of the RMI 400 eliminates the need for radiation shielding curtains traditionally found in x-ray inspection systems. Since the product doesn’t come into contact with curtains, maintaining good hygiene is easier. Not only is hygiene improved, but machine disassembly and reassembly takes just minutes, dramatically improving the speed of sanitation cycles.
To ensure fast and convenient visual inspection during cleaning, the machine design incorporates unobstructed sight-lines and contoured surfaces minimising potential material harbourage areas. The entire machine can be disassembled in a matter of minutes for thorough sanitation and quick reassembly to maximise production uptime.
Easy and convenient to use, the system employs the Eagle SimulTask™ PRO operating system which combines powerful image processing routines with simple touch screen operation to deliver maximum inspection results for hard to detect contaminants. Eagle Repository™ is supplied as a standard which provides a simple way of storing, viewing and transferring production information such as statistics, event logs, manually saved images and reject images to standard USB memory storage devices.
- Sanitary design thrives in harsh wash-down meat and poultry operations with its robust construction designed to NAMI standards
- “No Curtain” design eliminates product contact for improved hygiene; machine disassembly and reassembly in minutes for fast sanitation cycles
- Inclined in-feed and out-feed conveyor reduces time needed for sanitation cleaning and eliminates product contact for improved hygiene.
- Easy disassembly & reassembly for maximum uptime
- Superior image processing delivers unparalleled contaminant and bone detection using Eagle’s SimulTask™ PRO operating system
X-ray In-feed and Reject Poultry Solution
Deploying the Eagle RMI 400 x-ray inspection system with an in-feed and reject system provides processors with an inline containment and bone detection solution coupled with a reject and return facility. This type of system ensures much more reliable and consistent results than manual inspection, delivering consistent product quality and brand protection.
Calcified bone between 1.5mm and 2.0 mm can be detected while the HMI option allows the operator to visually see the location of the foreign object to assist with rework.
The standard option allows the operator to quickly access and rework the rejected product on a lighted trim table.
- The reject unit operates at a speed of up to 100 pieces per minute (per side, if operating a dual line system)
- The product is x-rayed to detect bone fragments or other foreign body contamination
- Contaminant detection sends a reject unit activating the retractable belt
- Rejected product is dropped onto the reject return conveyor and delivered back to the operators for reworking
- Reworked product is moved to a return chute that feeds the main line
- Trim/waste is discarded easily into a dedicated container at the rework station
- Clean product continues on the takeaway conveyor for packing or further processing