Family-owned wholesale bakery La Provence of San Marcos, CA, makes artisan breads, pastries and cookies that go to market under the La Provence and private-label brands. Their baked goods, including organic, gluten-free, and non-GMO varieties, are distributed to coffee shops and retailers, several of which are Fortune 500 companies. After purchasing a new cookie packaging line in 2016, La Provence turned to Mettler-Toledo for new inspection equipment to maximize their final product quality.
“It’s typical in the food industry to see companies simply react to problems. Our X-ray equipment, metal detectors, checkweighers, and tank scales allow us to be proactive and confident that all our products are exceptional,” says Philip Dardaine, CEO of La Provence. “The most important thing is that our food is safe, for the sake of consumers and customers as well as ourselves. We take food safety very seriously. That’s why we rely on the Mettler-Toledo Product Inspection Group.”
La Provence’s first X-ray system was Safeline’s SmartChek, which it used for over 10 years. Dardaine says they were very impressed with its accuracy and ease of use. “That’s why we decided to go straight to X-ray for our new cookie line last year,” he explains. La Provence’s sales rep, Kirk Isham at Pacific Packaging & Inspection, supported the decision, he adds.
La Provence installed its latest X-ray machine, a Safeline X33, to inspect 5- to 16-oz tubs of cookies. The X33 detects dense foreign material, including all types of metal, and automatically rejects contaminated packages. As Mettler-Toledo’s next-generation solution, it features the same detection sensitivity as the SmartChek and AdvanCheck models but with a lower watt generator to reduce power consumption and operating costs.
“Detecting metal is imperative when you’re using metal mixers, and the X33 has incredible detection sensitivity,” notes Dardaine. “Not only can it find metal better than most metal detectors, but a system this powerful can identify something even as thin as a piece of fabric. Any foreign object gives customers a bad taste, both literally and figuratively. I’m a big believer in X-ray detection.”
Mettler-Toledo also installed a Hi-Speed XC3 checkweigher on the same cookie line to detect and reject under- and overfilled packages. The checkweigher is compact and achieves 100% weight inspection with an accuracy of ±1 g. Handling up to 100 packages/min and products up to 7.7 lb, the XC3 features a dashboard-style touchscreen for access to product and machine performance information.
“The primary purpose of this checkweigher is to make sure the cookies in the tub don’t weigh less than the amount on the label,” says Dardaine. “The additional benefit is that it also rejects overweight packages to help us quickly identify and correct problems before we sell a thousand tubs with too many cookies. This improves our yield and essentially pays for the machine.”
In 2016, La Provence also installed two new Mettler-Toledo tank scale systems that utilize advanced IND780 weighing terminals. “These scales measure ingredients as they are dumped or conveyed into the kettles, which allows us to make recipes more accurately,” explains Dardaine. “Tank scales are tricky to install, because you have to work with welders, modify the tanks, and position them correctly.
“When it’s all said and done, our inspection systems protect our product quality. From a commercial standpoint, this great equipment impresses our customers and builds our reputation.”