Food Scanner Proves a Gem on Chicken Run
Byline: MARCUS GIBSON
TINY bones in processed chicken, such as nuggets, can choke, injure or even kill if accidentally swallowed.
For years, fast-food outlets and their suppliers have been searching for a foolproof system that can detect even the smallest foreign bodies at high speed on production lines.
Now a young Birmingham-based company, Intelligent Manufacturing Systems (IMS), has combined an ingenious X-ray scanner with intelligent imaging software to produce BoneScan.
The world-beating inspection system has a 98.5% accuracy rate in detecting bone fragments. Its nearest competitor manages just 50%.
BoneScan's extraordinarily high detection levels apply not only to bones, but to other foreign bodies such as metal, glass and even stones.
Other potential applications for its intelligent detection approach include finding diamonds in mounds of earth and chemical analysis of blood samples.
While such possibilities are being developed, IMS is busy building multi-sensor systems involving ultraviolet cameras and X-ray machines that are so accurate they can detect hard-shell insects in food.
This summer, the world's largest processed chicken producer, Tyson Foods of the US, ordered several IMS systems for its production lines. Each BoneScan c o s t s [pounds sterling]250,000 and IMS expects to install at least 20 across the US chicken-processing industry before the end of next year.
IMS marketing director Andrew Marshall says: 'US companies are keen to reduce their exposure to the heavy costs associated with the growing number of contaminated food claims brought by consumers.' American companies are also impressed because the system is able to discern between different objects and avoids unwelcome false alarms with costly and expensive production delays.
The success of BoneScan has caused a flood of enquiries from IMS customers who want to use its sensor and detection system for other applications. …