Case Study

Tackling the challenging nature of hard-to-inspect tortillas

Profile advantage metal detectors
Metal detectors ensure the safety of Arevalo Foods’ tortillas while providing accuracy and versatility to its food safety protocol.

It’s not easy ensuring the quality and food safety of 3.5 million tortillas a day. But Arevalo Foods has done just that. The Montebello, California-based company uses metal detectors from Mettler-Toledo Safeline to detect contaminants in its various tortillas — a product notoriously difficult to inspect — delivering accuracy and versatility to its food safety system along the way.

Arevalo offers one of the largest selections of corn and flour tortillas in the world, selling to foodservice, private label and co-packing customers globally. Achieving double-digit growth over the last three years, the family-owned company credits its success in part to its commitment to consistently producing high-quality and safe products. That includes investing in a HACCP- and SQF-certified manufacturing facility that exceeds industry standards, according to the company. To further ensure the safety and quality of its tortillas, Arevalo installed three Profile Advantage metal detectors from Mettler-Toledo Safeline two years ago.

“We started researching new metal detectors when we won a new nationwide customer that required detection levels far beyond regulatory requirements. We spoke with multiple suppliers and considered reliability, sanitary design, ease of use and, of course, accuracy,” says Daniel Arevalo, vice president of Arevalo Foods. “We chose Mettler-Toledo because we have other metal detectors from them in our facility, and they’re fantastic. We were so impressed by our first two Profile Advantage systems that we ordered another one in 2018. Now we’re planning to replace all of our older metal detectors.”

Conquering challenges

Arevalo currently relies on the Profile Advantage metal detectors to inspect its main tortilla products: heat-pressed tortillas, die-cut tortillas and hand-stretched tortillas. The tortillas are between 6 and 14 in. in size and packaged in four- to 30-count bags, as well as bulk packages. Metal detection is the final step on the three lines prior to case packing.

“Tortillas are very challenging products for most metal detectors — they often have high temperatures and a moisture content above 30 percent. Another challenge is the wide range of retail and bulk package sizes that we need to inspect on each line,” says President Alex Arevalo. “Despite these factors, our new Safeline systems consistently maintain the highest sensitivity.”

The Profile Advantage metal detector identifies and rejects every type of metal in even the most difficult applications. By using multi-simultaneous frequencies, the metal detector creates a reference point to better discern changes due to the presence of metal versus changes within the product itself. This advanced performance maximizes sensitivity while virtually eliminating false rejects when inspecting all kinds of products. 

Flexible routine

Designed for versatility and ease of use, the Profile Advantage features a single-pass auto setup routine to quickly learn a new product. Up to 100 different recipes can be stored in memory for fast recall during changeovers, while the product clustering capability minimizes the need for setting changes. That allows Arevalo to use the metal detector to inspect its other products, including organic, gluten-free, non-GMO and flavored wraps as well as gluten-free pizza crusts and fully topped pizzas. 

“Production flexibility is a big priority for us,” Alex Arevalo says. “It’s not unusual for us to change over our lines as often as four or five times in a single shift.

“One of our favorite things about our Safeline metal detectors is the recipe-driven programming, which makes them easy and fast to change over. It takes only a couple of minutes to add a totally new product and a minute to select a new pre-programmed recipe,” Alex Arevalo explains. “Recipes also minimize false rejects since they input the proper settings every time. We don’t rework products right now, so any false rejects mean lost yield and a waste of our time and money.”

Mettler-Toledo customized the reject systems on Arevalo’s Profile Advantage metal detectors to ensure rejected packages are always properly removed from the line, no matter the size and shape. The setup includes an automatic arm that pushes the package off the line as well as an alert light and an alarm. To guarantee proper rejection, sensors monitor the infeed and outfeed, the path of rejected packages, and more. For extra security, Arevalo chose to add an optional lockable bin to hold rejected bags so only authorized quality assurance personnel can access them for analysis and disposal.

Clean and robust

Arevalo also takes advantage of the robust, hygienic design of the Profile Advantage metal detectors, which meet European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group (EHEDG) standards. The stainless-steel casing and IP69K-rated sealing ensure the system is capable of withstanding harsh washdown regimes, while curved edges and corners eliminate potential dirt traps. 

“Sanitation is a big reason why we chose the Profile Advantage, and we couldn’t be happier with how straightforward they are to clean,” Alex Arevalo says. “Our facility is tough on equipment due to the presence of flour, which is very abrasive to electrical components. Our metal detectors have stood up great in this harsh environment — they’re incredibly reliable.”

According to Arevalo Foods, the metal detectors have proven to be an essential component of the company’s overall food safety protocol. “It’s critical that we catch a potential quality issue before it leaves our facility,” Daniel Arevalo says. “In a way, our metal detectors are our last line of defense. By using Safeline systems that maintain a level of sensitivity far beyond regulatory requirements, we protect consumers as well as our customers’ brands and our own reputation. Our Profile Advantage systems are a cornerstone in our food safety program.”

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