Pigs reveal secrets: New research shines light on Quebec industry

Nov 04, 2010
This shows an analysis of meat quality by spectroscopy. Credit: Dept. of Bioresource Engineering, McGill University.

Which are the best pieces of pork, what their texture is, how moist they are – the secrets pigs keep from even the most skilled butchers – are about to be revealed, thanks to a sophisticated new technique that has been developed by McGill University researchers in conjunction with Agriculture Canada and the pork industry.

"This is about giving industry workers better tools to do their job," explained Dr. Michael Ngadi of McGill's Department of Bioresource Engineering. "Computer-aided analysis of meat will result in higher-quality jobs, optimal production, and exports that fit more closely with the target markets."

The technology involves spectroscopy, a technique based on the analysis of the wavelengths of visible and invisible light produced by matter. By measuring the wavelengths of reflected light that pork cuts release, the researchers discovered they could easily determine the colour, texture and exudation (water release) of the meat. The technique is revolutionary, as previous laboratory techniques had involved destroying the testing sample. "The technique enables production workers to conduct objective and scientific analysis of the meat very quickly on the production line," Dr. Ngadi said. It means the meat can be more accurately sorted according to the quality demanded by different export markets.

The research is not far from leaving the laboratory and entering factories, according to Dr. Ngadi. "We are currently looking for partners who will work with us to build a ready-to-use device for a commercial production line," he said. The researchers are also looking to extend the technique for the evaluation of other aspects of meat quality, such as marbling and fat content.

Explore further: Organic apple orchards benefit from green compost applications

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

PETA offers $1 million for fake meat

Apr 22, 2008

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the animal rights group based in Virginia, is offering a $1 million prize for meat produced in a laboratory.

Scientists turn stem cells into pork

Jan 15, 2010

(AP) -- Call it pork in a petri dish - a technique to turn pig stem cells into strips of meat that scientists say could one day offer a green alternative to raising livestock, help alleviate world hunger, ...

Slaughterhouse workers report illnesses

Jan 18, 2008

U.S. health officials are investigating a cluster of neurological illnesses in workers at pork slaughter facilities in Indiana and Minnesota.

Active packaging keeps meat fresh for longer

Oct 01, 2010

To date, supermarkets have only been able to keep products on their meat counters for a few days. But now researchers have developed an antimicrobial active packaging film that destroys the microorganisms ...

Pork meat grown in the laboratory

Dec 01, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists from Eindhoven University in The Netherlands have for the first time grown pork meat in the laboratory by extracting cells from a live pig and growing them in a petri dish.

Recommended for you

Rising temperatures can be hard on dogs

1 hour ago

The "dog days of summer" are here, but don't let the phrase fool you. This hot time of year can be dangerous for your pup, says a Kansas State University veterinarian.

Monkeys fear big cats less, eat more, with humans around

4 hours ago

Some Monkeys in South Africa have been found to regard field scientists as human shields against predators and why not if the alternative is death by leopard? The researchers found the monkeys felt far safer ...

User comments : 0