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New technology uses light to evaluate pork

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November 4, 2010

The new system analyzes the wavelengths of visible and near-infrared light reflected by po...

The new system analyzes the wavelengths of visible and near-infrared light reflected by pork to determine quality

Workers in meat-processing plants may soon be able to assess the qualities of cuts of meat, just by subjecting them to light. Researchers from Montreal’s McGill University, working with Agriculture Canada and the Canadian pork industry, have developed a spectroscopic tool that evaluates the color, texture and exudation (water release) of pork cuts. It's hoped that the technology will improve quality control, optimize production and allow for exports that are better sorted for their target markets.

The system analyzes the wavelengths of visible and near-infrared light reflected by pork cuts. “The technique enables production workers to conduct objective and scientific analysis of the meat very quickly on the production line,” said Dr. Michael Ngadi, of McGill’s Department of Bioresource Engineering.

The conventional laboratory method of assessing pork quality requires the destruction of the meat samples.

Because pork is currently graded into five quality classes according to combinations of color, texture and exudation, those are the characteristics that the McGill system was designed to assess. In the testing of the system, 60 cuts of various classes of pork were introduced, and 79 percent of those were accurately identified.

The researchers are also looking into ways in which the system could evaluate other meat qualities, such as marbling and fat content. Ngadi stated that they are now looking for business partners, so the system can be commercialized and brought into use.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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