USDA picks Headwall's spectral imagers for food inspection and safety

Jan. 3, 2009
Headwall Photonics (Fitchburg, MA) announced the formation of a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with the USDA Agricultural Research Service (Washington, DC) to develop and deploy spectral-imaging hardware for in-line processing of poultry, fruit, vegetables, and other food products.

Headwall Photonics (Fitchburg, MA) announced the formation of a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with the USDA Agricultural Research Service (Washington, DC) to develop and deploy spectral imaging hardware for in-line processing of poultry, fruit, vegetables, and other food products. Headwall, which develops spectral-imaging devices for commercial and defense-related applications, was selected to develop instrumentation for food-processing and food-safety applications. These areas are viewed as strategic technology areas for the USDA, as food safety and food quality are areas of public concern. "In-line spectral imaging holds tremendous potential for the agricultural sector and is a key enabling technology," said Moon Kim, senior scientist at the USDA Agricultural Research Service. He noted that the CRADA will concentrate on spectral-imaging-based on-line inspection systems for a range of commercial applications.

Headwall's Hyperspec imaging sensors are already being used for in-line evaluation of poultry wholesomeness; the application requires exceptional imaging performance, both spatially and spectrally, in a high-throughput environment where 150 birds per minute are inspected on the processing line. Headwall's Hyperspec-VNIR instruments are based upon (patented) technology that combines high-efficiency, aberration-corrected holographic diffraction gratings with a hyperspectral VNIR imaging spectrograph, which is coupled and aligned with fore-optics and a high-performance CCD detector.

With increasing frequency, numerous food recalls occur and safety bulletins are issued regarding food contamination. Spectral-imaging sensors can be tuned for the detection of different materials, additives, or contaminants. "These instruments represent a leap forward in sensitivity while being smaller and less expensive than ever before," said Peter Hallett, manager of Industry relations at SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics (Bellingham, WA).

Headwall Photonics produces high-performance spectrometers, spectral engines, and holographic diffraction gratings. Headwall Photonics was formed in 2003 as the result of a management buyout from Agilent Technologies.

About the Author

John Wallace | Senior Technical Editor (1998-2022)

John Wallace was with Laser Focus World for nearly 25 years, retiring in late June 2022. He obtained a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and physics at Rutgers University and a master's in optical engineering at the University of Rochester. Before becoming an editor, John worked as an engineer at RCA, Exxon, Eastman Kodak, and GCA Corporation.

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