Contamination high on the ‘worry list’ for nut


The risk of contamination remains a major issue for processors, according to optical sorting specialists at Bühler’s optical sorting division.

As Marketing Director, Charith Gunawardena explains, food safety incidents become magnified in a global news environment, and can have severe financial implications on corporate brand: “With a multi-billion dollar global market in treenuts comes worldwide media influence. So there are potentially seri-ous reputational risks for nut processors, and their customers in the manufacturing food chain, around contaminants and how to ensure their removal during processing.”

Application specialist, Nick Reynolds comments: “We’re seeing a demand for innovative - but proven - sorting that can be adapted to suit the exact requirements of nut processors. We’ve always put a huge emphasis on research and technical development, and as a result we offer custom-designed cameras with InGaAs technology and unique PROfile shape recognition, both of which give real benefits for processing nuts. Customers see a fast pay back in terms of improved product quality that’s safer for consumers, and yield.”

The SORTEX Z+R uses high resolution cameras with selected filters, enabling the detection of subtle defects and foreign matter during processing. InGaAs camera technology uses shortwave infrared imaging to add a further dimension beyond colour differentiation. Originally used by the space and defence industries, InGaAs (Indium Gallium Arsenide) uses shortwave infrared imaging technology to monitor a product's physical and chemical properties. This allows nut to remove hard-to-detect defects and foreign material that are invisible to the human eye – such as shell, sceptre, stones, peewee, insect damage, plastic, wood, cardboard and glass.

In addition, the latest generation of sorters are equipped with climate control to guarantee consistent and accurate camera function in all conditions.

The SORTEX Z+R with PROfile™ shape recognition system adds a further layer of assurance for food quality and safety, as Reynolds explains:

“When product defects, blemishes or foreign materials can’t be distinguished across the whole light spectrum – visible and infrared - PROfile shape technology can be brought into play. By customising the software and hardware package in the cameras, every nut that the machine sees passes through an extensive ‘if, and then’ logic before sorting according to the customer’s specification.”

“Nuts can be sorted by the area of individual blemishes or even by the combined area of all the blem-ishes on the nut’s surface. PROfile™ technology sees the profile of each nut, even when they’re touch-ing.”

“Taken together, these technologies give an array of tools for sorting by any combination of colour, size and shape. This means that sticks, stones, shell, brokens, and any other foreign material, plus nuts of the wrong length, width, shape, size as well as colour can be rejected and removed.”


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