High-tech answer to fat analysis in meat industry

Mar 21, 2014
High-tech answer to fat analysis in meat industry
Credit: Thinkstock

For decades, the meat industry has made good use of laboratory analysis. Now the focus is shifting to rapid analytical methods on the production floor and meat producers are perhaps spoilt for choice in terms of rapid analytical options. But which is the right solution for that all important parameter - fat?

A new EU-funded project may have the answer. The TRIMSCAN project, launched in Parma in January, hopes to develop analytical solutions for manufacturers of ground meat-based products. The aim, basically, is that this will be capable of scanning through the meat and assessing .

TRIMSCAN aims to help SME meat processors become more competitive by using automatic in-line analysis in meat trimmings.

It is well-known that cutting fat content is one of the most pressing challenges facing the meat industry. This is important for manufacturers of , that is, at cutting and boning plants, as well as for manufacturers of processed . A number of technologies for rapid fat analysis are already available, each with certain advantages and disadvantages.

Many meat processed products like hamburgers and sausages, including fresh sausages, cooked or smoked sausages, for example, frankfurters and dry-cured sausages such as salami and chorizo are produced from meat trimmings mainly from pork or beef or from a mixture of both. Europe is a major meat producer and the EU accounts for over 16% of global meat production.

What is known as a 'pre-classified' process exists in order to determine the amount of fat in a product with different lean/fat ratios. In some slaughterhouses this is traditionally carried out by experienced and trained operators who manually select the meat from different parts of the pig or beef carcass to achieve the desired fat content.

Fat content in 'pre-classified' meat trimmings can have a variation of plus/minus 5% but even with carcass classification and employees with long experience, large differences in fat levels cannot be avoided.

The main goal of the TRIMSCAN project is to investigate the use of a contactless technology for in-line fat analysis with accuracy better than 1.5%. The scheme will provide SME processors and slaughterhouses with a practical tool at an affordable price to make them more competitive by reducing expensive lean meat over-use by at least 2% and avoiding the need for time consuming sampling.

Silvia Padovan, of TRIMSCAN, said, 'In meat processing, the control of fat in meat trimmings is vitally important to ensure both homogeneity and quality of the final product. It is also desirable to reduce the lean over-use, to comply with legislation and meet customer specifications. Large fat variations produce substantial economic losses and a number of industrial problems.'

Excessive salt content, poor texture, hard surface, appearance and odour and product spoilage are the most common quality problems while industrial issues can include manual sampling, recipe adjustment, poor binding capacity and problems during slicing of the product.

Barcelona-based Padovan adds, 'TRIMSCAN will substantially improve and simplify the production processes. It represents a real business opportunity for the SMEs of the sector.'

Explore further: Meat appeal high on lamb producer list

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Meat appeal high on lamb producer list

Mar 10, 2014

Consumers' want for visually appealing meat, and the genetic science behind producing such a trait has been explored in a recent summary paper which described key industry findings on the quality of Australian ...

Gov't expanding E. coli tests in meat

May 31, 2012

(AP) — The government is expanding E. coli testing in some raw meat, a move expected to prevent more people from contracting the bacteria that can cause severe illness or death.

Project launched to cut 'hidden' salt in foods

Mar 12, 2014

Current research shows reducing our current salt intake to six grams per day could prevent nearly six per cent of strokes. But the onus is as much on food manufacturers, as well as consumers, to be less heavy-handed ...

Eating red and processed meat—what do scientists say

Mar 06, 2014

Recent reports warn about a link between eating red and processed meat and the risk of developing cancer in the gut. These reports have resulted in new nutritional recommendations that advise people to limit their intake ...

Recommended for you

Computer games give a boost to English

8 hours ago

If you want to make a mark in the world of computer games you had better have a good English vocabulary. It has now also been scientifically proven that someone who is good at computer games has a larger ...

Saddam Hussein—a sincere dictator?

13 hours ago

Are political speeches manipulative and strategic? They could be – when politicians say one thing in public, and privately believe something else, political scientists say. Saddam Hussein's legacy of recording private discussions ...

Oldest representative of a weird arthropod group

13 hours ago

Biologists at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have assigned a number of 435-million-year-old fossils to a new genus of predatory arthropods. These animals lived in shallow marine habitats ...

User comments : 0