Key Ingredient Market, a food processor of unique hand-crafted spreads and dips that got its start at farmers' markets, spent its first five years using ice cream scoops to hand-fill its 6.5 oz tubs. When this husband-and-wife team decided to expand, new equipment was needed that could help the business grow. Knowing that uncompromising quality is at the heart of their success, Key Ingredient chose Mettler-Toledo Safeline's Signature Touch metal detector.
"As we grow, we're surrounding ourselves with the best tools available. We chose to work with Mettler-Toledo because they're the best. It was an easy decision," said Matthew Pivnick, president of Key Ingredient Market. "Our Signature Touch metal detector gives the buyers, distributors, and retailers confidence that we're delivering a safe, quality product. No product goes out the door until it's been inspected."
Key Ingredient uses Safeline's Signature Touch metal detector to find ferrous and non-ferrous tramp metal and the most difficult to detect, non-magnetic stainless steel fragments and non-spherical fine wire contaminants. It features high frequency advanced detection coil technology and dynamic filtering techniques to maximize detection sensitivity while saving time and money by decreasing false rejects.
Easy to Use, Sensitive Detection
"As a small company, our success depends on our customers always being satisfied. Food safety is an important part of that. We have mixers that feature stainless steel blades in stainless steel bowls, so a metal detector is essential to ensure our final product quality," explained Pivnick. "Tiny metal shavings can also be brought in from outside the facility in bulk ingredients. But the buck stops here. We're going to find it."
With a color touchscreen control panel and a single-pass auto setup routine, the Signature Touch is designed for ease of use. It can hold a hundred different product settings in its memory for quick and easy recall during changeovers, while its 'product clustering' capability minimizes the need for changes. With minimal training, it can be set up rapidly to recognize a new product.
"We could pre-program the metal detector for each of our products, but we prefer to use the auto-setup feature every time since it's so easy to use," said Pivnick. "Setting the Signature Touch up for each product run gives us the utmost confidence that it's perfectly programmed with the highest sensitivity every time, which is great for us, given the typical fluctuations that come from fresh ingredients."
Safety: Crucial to Growth Strategy
Shipping their all-natural products throughout the northeast, Key Ingredient has annual sales of less than $1 million but is successfully competing with larger companies by focusing on the finest product quality. After six years of 30 percent annual growth, Key Ingredient needed the metal detector to support their plan to break into the private label business and go coast-to-coast.
"As the owner of a small but expanding company, I have to be a jack of all trades, so I need support from time to time," explained Pivnick. "Our sales rep, Bob Dauphinais from Reliant Packaging, is great. He even came out on the Fourth of July to help me put the metal detector on a conveyor. "
Producing 22 different hand-crafted products and processing at a rate of 1,100 tubs an hour, Key Ingredient relies on two semi-automated packing lines. One filler handles cheese-based spreads and dips and one handles hummus and pesto. After being film sealed, the tubs are taken to the metal detector for inspection.
"Our Signature Touch is a part of our HACCP [Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points] plan, which is essential in supporting our growth," noted Pivnick. "Buyers, distributors, and groceries are not taking chances on companies without the assurance of an HACCP plan and SQF certification. They all want to know you make a good product and that it's safe to eat."
"A food recall could be very damaging," said Christine Woodareck, director of operations. "Companies need to think about it every day so they're not the next headline. You cannot put a price on the price of food safety."
"Our Signature Touch metal detector is so sensitive, it can find a piece of metal that's so small, it fits on the tip of a toothpick. We know this because our HACCP plan requires us to test it on a regular basis," concluded Pivnick. "It adds a level of comfort, since we know the product we're selling is clean and safe to eat. This technology from Mettler-Toledo Safeline helps me sleep at night."