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Metal detector keeps hot dogs and sausages free of contaminants

Attention to foreign contamination prevention continues to be a mainstay at Smith Provision Company, a manufacturer of premium quality hot dogs, sausages, deli meats, bacon and award-winning hams. Smith’s is a fourth generation, family-run business that began in 1927 as a small, two-person retail outlet. Today, the Erie-PA based company has 50 employees and serves retail outlets as far south as Pittsburgh and as far north as Buffalo, NY.  Because requests for Smith’s product now comes from all over the country, the company offers a direct shipping service for those loyal Smith’s fans who do not live near a Smith’s retailer.

Smith’s became one of the first food manufacturers to test and install an Eriez Xtreme Metal Detector in its 27,000-sq.-ft. production facility last year. The meat processor has the capacity to run five packaging lines for its assortment of natural casing and skinless hot dogs, kielbasa, Cajun sausage, Ring Bologna, Ox Roast and many other food products.

The Eriez Xtreme Metal Detector was positioned at the end of one packaging line, dedicated mainly to Smith’s hot dogs and sausages, since those food items have the greatest chance to incur metal contamination during the processing stage, according to Emily Weber, Smith’s plant manager.

“We looked at these products with the highest risk of possible metal contamination,” she observes. “The sausages go through a coarser grind process, so there’s always a chance that metal fragments can get into the final product after sealing. By default, the hot dogs are on the same production line, so we have our two highest-selling products getting screened before shipment.”

The Xtreme Metal Detector was installed with design specifications that integrate with Smith’s existing 18” conveyor belt. The aperture opening of the metal detector is 20” wide x 10” high with top clearance of 3” and side clearance of 2”, providing enough space for larger food items such as hams. After a brief testing period, the Xtreme went online fulltime on Smith’s busiest production line with minimal downtime.

“We receive all raw materials from USDA inspected plants, and everything we produce is fully cooked,” notes Weber. “We chill all products down to about 40 degrees, and at that point, we can package individual items before they are conveyed through the metal detector.”

The number of items in each vacuum pack varies. A three-pound package of skinless hot dogs contains 24 links, while a 2 ½-pound package of natural casing hot dogs contains 18 links. Another example is the Cajun sausage, where a 12-ounce package contains four links. The Xtreme Metal Detector scans up to 10,000 pounds per week of the natural casing hot dogs with similar quantities for the skinless hot dogs and sausages, according to Weber.

Components of the new metal detector include full QWERTY keyboard, auto set-up and dedicated reject log. The Xtreme offers greater sensitivity with its multiple frequency range and vibration immunity. An integrated beacon and configurable inputs and outputs ease installation, and a large control opening allows access to wiring.

Because of the portability of the Xtreme Metal Detector, the unit can be wheeled onto a different processing line at Smith’s production plant. Weber says the short-term goal is to keep the Xtreme on the hot dogs and sausages production line, but transport it to other production lines on an as-needed basis.

“We constantly evaluate our operation with regard to continuous improvement. Installing the Xtreme Metal Detector was another step in that process because our trusted relationship with our customers is everything to us,” she says.