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For many of us, the mention of scoops is likely to conjure up images of ice creams purchased from a vendor’s kiosk on a favourite beachfront. Those remarkable little gadgets with the ladle-like head are designed to deliver a uniform portion of you favourite ice-cream flavour to fit neatly into an edible cone. On the industrial scene, however, those devices referred to by the same name are radically different in design and are, most often, made not of metal but of a durable plastic polymer.

In this role, they are generally not intended to deliver such small volumes of material and, instead, tend to be employed as a convenient means to transfer larger quantities of material from one container to another. In a commercial bakery, cake mixture is not prepared in small bowls and stirred with a hand whisk but in large vats and stirred with a correspondingly large motorised paddle. A recipe might call for 10 scoops of mixed fruit, 10 buckets of skimmed milk, and a couple of sacks of flour.

Depending on the requirement, these products are available in a range of sizes. More importantly, however, strict hygiene measures are essential in the handling of these ingredients. As a result, the materials from which they are made must be as resistant as possible to the type of wear and tear that might make then more difficult to clean effectively. Within the food-and-beverage industry, the scoops used will invariably be required to withstand the effects of the superheated steam in an autoclave. While stainless-steel implements certainly meet these criteria, they are comparatively heavy and the metal also costs substantially more than equally tough plastic polymers such as food-grade polypropylene.

The latter is the choice of the Danish company Vikan, a leading manufacturer of world-class hygiene equipment, much of which is designed to meet the special needs of the food-and-beverage industry. In addition to its basic line of 0,5-, 1- and 2-litre hand scoops and bowl-shaped models, Vikan also produces a range of metal-detectable models in the same sizes. Sadly, nothing is truly indestructible and when used constantly, even these durable polypropylene implements can become damaged. This, in turn, could lead to tiny particles finding their way into commercially produced foodstuffs.

Recently, there has been a lot of negative press about the threat of contaminants in processed foods and these metal-detectable implements provide the means to make it easier to detect them in time to halt distribution. The principle is simple. The polymer is evenly blended with minute metal particles, which means that any damage to these scoops will result in the release of traces of metal. Even the tiniest traces present in a product can then be spotted by routinely monitoring it with the aid of a suitable metal or X-ray detector. This is one of the qualities that makes them such a good choice for handling pastes, granules, and powders.

A complete range of VIkan hygiene products, which includes these regular and metal-detectable scoops, is available in South Africa from Pescatech. In addition, we also stock an equally extensive range of floor drains, washdown equipment, and janitorial and bathroom solutions.

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