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Increased efficiency: moving from assumed quality to online measurement and process control

Informed addresses online monitoring & control of production in the meat processing industry. The aim is to develop three novel sensor systems to measure : tenderness, water holding capacity, foreign body detection, water activity and bacterial contamination.

1. Underlying idea: Increased production efficiency has been identified internationally as the most important challenge for the meat industry. Automation in the meat industry continues to be a scientific challenge due to the biological variation. The project addresses the sector’s main challenge: improve efficiency and online monitoring and control of production. The aim is to achieve real time measurements of important quality and food safety parameters such as tenderness, water holding capacity (WHC), foreign body detection (FOD), water activity (aw) and bacterial contamination. 2. Level of innovation: To our knowledge, no R&D or commercial sensor system has been able to measure tenderness, WHC, soft foreign objects or bacterial contamination online fast and cheaply enough and with an accuracy that makes implementation of the on-line measurement profitable. Our proposed project addresses unique and new technologies in the fields of mechanical probing, x-rays and microwaves. The project consortium is assembled with strong European meat industrial partners who already utilise the currently available technology. This will ensure relevance and driving forces for fast implementation of new cutting edge technology. 3. Potential for value creation: Firstly, consistency in the quality of a product generates customer loyalty. Secondly, for the processor itself, quality measurements would provide more optimized processing conditions, reduce waste, increase yield and save costs. In this way, higher product quality is combined with lower operating costs to help maximize profitability. Thirdly, all the information obtained in the industry can be fed-back to the farmers to identify the best farming practices, improve genetic selection and remunerate desired meat qualities. The tenderness guarantee (”Gilde Garantert Mørt”) on retail sales products has been an important marketing element for Gilde fresh cuts, and the project will aim to strengthen this concept with objective measurements. This measurement would also have future potential in controlling the meat process, e.g. deciding if the meat is tender enough to sell as is, or whether further tenderisation is needed or if mincing/cutting into smaller pieces is the only consumer-friendly option. WHC of pork is one of its most important quality parameters, which affects: 1. Eating quality – better water holding capacity will lead to a juicier and more tender product. 2. Amount of saleable product – reducing drip loss during the cutting, deboning, and storing process will increase total sales volumes. 3. Further processing yields – a better water holding capacity will improve cooking and curing yields, i.g. one percent reduced drip loss from 50 Tons of trimmings and price 25 NOK/kg equals 12 500 NOK that “goes down the drains” every day alone. Detection of low density foreign objects (e.g. plastic) is a general challenge for industrial food production in terms of food safety but it also has importance in terms of economy. Foreign objects are a risk for product recalls and generally reduced reputation and trust, causing loss of customers. Water activity is an important parameter in controlling the production of dry cured meats. Non-destructive, fast and at-line measurements would simplify and improve production control and reduce waste. The Spanish producer COVAP underline improved homogeneity of the products, which is quite difficult for fermented products, to be the greatest value. As part of this research it will be possible to investigate detection or quantification of bacterial contamination. The potential would be very large but is dependent on obtained sensitivity. Besides the meat industry, hi-tech suppliers see a great opportunity to complement their latest technologies put on the market with new on-line measurements for important quality parameters in the food industry. The former QVision, with the acquisition of market leader Odenberg (www.odenberg.com), sees the highest potential in offering an x-ray system to detect low density foreign bodies, e.g. plastics. Today there is no reliable solution available in the market to cover this need and Odenberg believes the market potential for a belt based solution is large within the meat industry. Odenberg also believes this technology could combine fat measurement and detection of low (and high) density foreign bodies in blocks of meat and other foods. This would open an additional market for Odenberg. Odenberg is also interested in exploring the market potential for a solution to measure WHC or tenderness, even though Odenberg believes the market adoption for such systems will take more time. The topics fit well with Odenberg’s strategy of becoming a leading supplier of in-line measurement technologies for the food industry.
Acronym: 
INFORMED
Project ID: 
6 748
Start date: 
01-01-2012
Project Duration: 
36months
Project costs: 
2 320 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Resources of the Sea, Fisheries
Market Area: 
Energy management

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.