Making SME meat processors more competitive by using automatic in-line fat analysis in meat trimmings

Many meat processed products like hamburgers and sausages, including fresh sausages, cooked or smoked sausages (e.g. frankfurters, bologna) and dry‐cured sausages (e.g. salami, chorizo) are produced from meat trimmings mainly from pork or beef or from a mixture of pork and beef. The production of meat trimmings in EU is large; about 14 million tones comes from pig meat and 3.5 million tones from beef meat.

Trimming bins are pre-classified at slaughterhouse to a determined amount of fat with different lean/fat ratios (e.g. 90/10, 80/20, 70/30, 60/40, 50/50, etc). The preparation of trimming bins is traditionally carried out by experienced and trained operators who manually classify meat pieces from different parts of the pig/beef carcass to achieve the desired fat content. Natural variation of fat content in meat trimmings is large. Even with carcass classification and employees with long experience, large variations in fat levels for manufacturing meat are unavoidable.  Typical variations in the fat content are ± 5 %

In meat processing, the control of fat in meat trimmings is of vital importance to ensure homogeneity and quality of the final product and to comply with legislation and customer specifications. Lean meat over-use is another factor that have a significant economic impact in the production process. A fat variation larger than 3% will produce substantial economic looses 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 due to fat variation. Manual sampling, recipe adjustment, poor binding capacity and problems during slicing of the product are the most important industrial problems.

The main goal of the project is to develop a contactless, in-line fat analyser that will automatically determine the fat content in plastic standard bins (Euronorm type) with accuracy better than 1.5%. TRIMSCAN project will provide SME processors and slaughterhouses with a practical tool at an affordable cost to make them more competitive by reducing the typical lean meat over-use and to avoid the need of time consuming sampling and recipe reformulation. TRIMSCAN will substantially improve and simplify the production processes by homogenising the quality of the final product and by reducing the percentage of rejections due to products that do not meet the legislation and/or customer specifications. TRIMSCAN represents a real business opportunity for the SMEs of the meat sector.