J&J Snack Foods is an innovative national leader in the snack food and frozen beverage industries. Across its 18 production facilities, the brand manufactures a wide range of products under 25 house brands, including ICEE and LUIGI’S Real Italian Ice, as well as customers’ private labels. To protect product quality, J&J Snack Foods turned to Mettler Toledo Safeline (mt.com) and installed three X-ray systems — one X33 model in 2017, followed by another X33 and an unusual two-lane X36 model in 2018.
“We have lots of Mettler Toledo equipment, including checkweighers and metal detectors, at our Moosic, Pennsylvania, facility. We’ve always had positive experiences collaborating with them, so they were our first choice when we decided to install X-ray inspection on a new line and two existing lines,” says Ernest Fogle, vice president of research and development, Frozen Desserts Division at J&J Snack Foods. “We spoke with multiple suppliers to find X-rays that offered impressive sensitivity, ease of use and reliability at an affordable price, all while fitting our workload and flow. Mettler Toledo was the best fit.”
Carissa Chrobak, food safety quality control manager at J&J adds: “We decided to go with X-ray systems instead of metal detectors because they have more detection capabilities. Plus, some of our packages have foil lids, which metal detectors can’t accurately inspect.”
“First off, X-rays detect all dense foreign material including metal and automatically reject contaminated packages. We also use them to inspect the volume of product in a cup or the placement of product components within a package. For example, one of our packages for club stores contains tubes of Italian ice, and we use X-ray inspection to confirm the tubes are oriented correctly within the package,” she says.
Mettler Toledo’s X33 and X36 models both achieve the same outstanding detection sensitivity as the previous-generation SmartChek and AdvanChek models but use 20-watt generators to consume one fifth of the power. “We’re very conscientious of the energy we consume in order to reduce our environmental impact and financial costs,” comments Jay Montgomery, vice president and general manager at J&J Snack Foods. “We do our best to be as green as possible, and these Safeline systems help support that goal.”
For two of their high-throughput lines, J&J Snack Foods chose the X33 X-ray systems to inspect 250 cups per minute of frozen desserts and beverages, which are packaged in a variety of different poly-based cups ranging in size from 3 to 4.4 oz. To help ensure final product quality, their X33 systems feature several options, including Safeline pneumatic reject devices, electronic bins for storing rejected products and a buzzer that alerts the operator when a package is rejected.
For a mixed-product line that produces variety packs, the brand selected the highly configurable X36 X-ray system, which can be designed to run up to eight separate lanes of different products at once. J&J Snack Foods’ two-lane X36, which also handles 250 cups per minute, inspects two lanes of similar products at the same time, such as different flavors, while keeping the two product types separated. Products include Italian ice, sorbets, frozen juice and ice cream in 2- or 4-oz. cups with foil lids or 6-oz. cups with paper locking lids. Like the X33 systems, the X36 at J&J Snack Foods has a Safeline pneumatic reject device, an electronic bin and an alarm.
“One of the biggest considerations on our minds is sanitation. Since we wash down our lines at least once a day, we need to make sure all the equipment we purchase is easy to clean,” says Henry Anderson, maintenance manager at J&J Snack Foods. “In addition to having inherently hygienic designs, our X-ray systems include Safeline’s optional IP65/IP66 enclosures. The electronics stay dry and run perfectly, even with our frequent washdowns.”
The X33 and X36 feature intuitive touchscreen control panels and pre-programmed settings, which keep it simple for operators. “We’ve enabled three levels of psssword protection to prevent low-level employees from unintentionally altering product recipes,” Anderson adds. “These systems require only routine preventative maintenance, and we’ve experienced virtually no unplanned downtime.
“Whenever we’re making a new purchase from the Mettler-Toledo Product Inspection Group, our sales rep, Bob Hatala of Reliant Packaging Machinery (reliantpackaging.com), always makes sure we get the perfect unit for our line,” explains Anderson. “Since we rely on so many of the Mettler systems, we appreciate that their technicians are cross-trained to handle all their different types of equipment.”
J&J’s products go to foodservice and retail customers around the world. “We have a responsibility to ensure that everything we put out into the market is top quality,” says Fogle. “Our new Safeline X-ray systems help to protect our brands, our private label customers and consumers. The X33 and X36 have consistently great sensitivity and minimal false positives with fantastic uptime. We’re very satisfied with their success.”