Toxic datura and nightshade weeds are more often harvested with crops such as green beans and baby leaf spinach, with the risk of getting into the final product. However, new sorting technology is now available.
Jacob Hobbel, TOMRA Food’s Global Category Director for Vegetables & Fruits, explains how to mitigate this risk. Of all the threats to food safety found on processing lines, toxic weeds are among the hardest to deal with. This has always been a challenge for processors, and now, changes in farming methods are making the problem more widespread. Increasing consumer demand for organically-grown crops, plus tightening limitations on pesticide use, are resulting in weeds becoming more prevalent.
The good news is that state-of-the-art sorting machines provide highly effective solutions. One type of sorting technology, in particular, possesses detection capabilities that only a few years ago were unheard of.
TOMRA Food now offers highly effective sorting solutions for every type of vegetable product, including IQF, fresh pack, fresh-cut, and canned. Although the primary purposes of optical sorters are to protect food safety and deliver consistent product quality, they also deliver many other advantages. The best sorters can grade to specification, increase removal efficiency, minimize false rejects, reduce the need for manual intervention, help solve labor scarcity problems, reduce line downtime, and provide valuable data about the sorted product. As a result, food waste gets reduced while yields and profits are enhanced.
The two sorting machines best suited to detecting and rejecting toxic weeds are the TOMRA 5B and the TOMRA 5C. Some processors use both these machines on the same line: the TOMRA 5B first, before the product is sliced or blanched, then the TOMRA 5C, with Biometric Signature Identification (BSI) technology, to make final checks between the IQF tunnel and the packing station.
TOMRA 5B for fresh produce
The TOMRA 5B is a high-end belt sorting machine that can detect and reject datura and nightshade weeds when mixed with fresh product. Combining 360-degree surround-view camera technology with one or more lasers and advanced shape algorithms, this machine sorts by color, shape by cameras, and structure by laser. It detects up to 99% of foreign material and is ideal for the targeted identification of extremely small individual defects in high-volume production flows.
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