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Metal in food - how to use magnets as a metal detector

Can you remove metal from food with magnets?

We have advised on several projects about metal in foods, and here we share our experiences from the various projects.

This is one of the longer posts, but it is in return packed with magnet knowledge, and there is also a video further down that shows how we spot metal in food / candy.

If you work with metal in foods, we must point out that you cannot read snippets of the following to quickly conclude anything - it's important that you read the entire post, as we along the way come up with both challenges and conclusions. And the sub-conclusions cannot stand alone.

An important place to start is with the following question:

Are there metals in food?

The food industry is subject to strict rules regarding the tracking of metals in food. the food administration monitors the producers, but in addition, the producers also do a lot to avoid the occurrence of metal in food. In this post, therefore, we will both discuss how to track metal in food and candy, but also the different processes foods must go through to track metal. Thus, you can become wiser both as a consumer on how the process is, but also as a food producer on what you can do with magnets to optimize the process of spotting where a piece of metal originates from, so you can quickly fix the machine that needs to be checked for wear.

But just to clear any doubt for consumers: you should as a starting point not be nervous about metals in food. And you can read much more about here why.

Metal in breakfast

We were contacted back in 2018 by a larger danish newspaper, which wanted to write an article about metal in breakfast food. It was set up for the big show, and they had bought several packs of cornflakes etc., which we were to test for traces of metal or metal residues.

They were quite convinced that there was plenty of metal in danish breakfast food.

So, we started with some of our largest magnets, and all food was thoroughly tested and chopped into small pieces to ensure that we didn’t overlook even the smallest piece of metal.

But we found nothing. there was no reaction and no metal shavings to be found afterward. Meaning, we could not spot the slightest reaction or find any kind of metal parts.

It was not the result the journalists had hoped for. unfortunately! we thought, however, that the news of "no metal in danish breakfast food" was at least as good as having found metal in the food, because it was good news. But such good news does not sell as many newspapers as a scandal story... so the newspaper completely dropped the story about breakfast being magnetic and filled with metal scrap.

Metal in grains

in all production with machinery, there can be metal residues, because there is wear on the machines over the years, which is unavoidable. The same applies to grains. We were therefore contacted about rebuilding a chute, which was to transport the grain over magnets, so any metal shavings could be sorted out (i.e., caught by the magnets).

The solution was constructed with a chute in 2 parts: first a wide part, made in a funnel shape (like a y), where it was easy to pour the grain through in larger amounts without spillage. Then a gap, where we placed 3 large 60x30x15 mm power magnets. and finally, the last part of the chute, which functioned as a sort of runway for the grain when it had jumped over the magnets, where it was collected in a container before the last processing.

Subsequent tests in the metal detector showed that the magnets worked, as there was nothing to trace, and the construction therefore worked completely as intended. But not only that: because magnets first begin to lose magnetism measurably after about 80 years and noticeably after about 100 years, it is a simple construction that works without power, and which only needs to be checked by simple inspection to keep an eye on any metal. Completely different from large machines, which depend on a lot of factors that must interact along the way and be continuously inspected by a technical employee. Here, magnets are different and "cooperative" - and will probably outlast all other parts in the construction by many years.

Unfortunately, we cannot show pictures of the chute. but if you need help building a similar model, we will gladly send you drawings for a similar solution.

Metal in chocolate and candy

The last task requires a bit more explanation, because the magnets can easily get the metal to "react," but it is not as simple as with the grain and breakfast products.

The task was to sort out pieces of candy from the production, which had gotten metal shavings in them during production. The company's problem was (as in the case with grain), that wear and metal fatigue can occur in the machinery. This can lead to metal shavings entering the products during production.

Here you can find some of the best magnets, searching for metals in food - that we have tested:

Related products - Metal in food - how to use magnets as a metal detector

You are more than welcome to contact our support, who is more than happy to help you with any request or answer whatever questions you have.