Controlling fat content is important for food processors that need to ensure the quality of the meat used in recipes and to comply with food legislation. Analysis is also important in making products that claim to have low fat content
Consumers expect that what is declared of meat content (or fat content) on the product label is correct, regardless if it is a pack of 500 gram minced meat, a pack of sausages or a pack of burgers.
Poul Erik Simonson, market manager FOSS told FoodProductionDaily.com that the XDS Direct Light system is one of its new generation of in-line analyzers for the food industry based on the smart use of near infrared reflection (NIR) analysis technology.
He said that the XDS Direct Light system consists of a near infrared scanning device and process control software, enabling the surface of ground meat to be continuously scanned as it flows through the production process to reveal information about its fat content.
Simonson explained that the device can be installed above a grinder outlet to scan the meat and the results of the measurements taken during the processing of a batch are shown on a touch screen, thus allowing the operator to adjust the batch fat if necessary.
NIR or near infrared transmission (NIT), microwave and x-radiation have become three of the most widespread techniques used by processors to determine fat content in sorted raw meat.
“FOSS has vast experience in this area coupled with a longstanding association with the meat industry, including a good knowledge of everyday challenges and demands. The result is a system that makes process control more accessible to meat producers,” claims Simonson.
He said that the new technology is highly accurate and is the only full-scanning monocromator based system available in the market for meat analysis.
According to Simonson, the XDS Direct Light system helps the processor to avoid using more of the expensive raw material (the lean meat) than needed, thus ensuring the processor can maximize the use of fat/fatty trimmings according to the specifications:
“By being able to monitor the fat-content of the batch in ‘real time’, the operator will be able to optimize the use of the raw material.”
Simonson claims the new system has a better transferability of data between instruments due to hardware standardization and one of the biggest advantages of the XDS Direct Light system is the reduced calibration costs it provides.
He said that as the system has a small footprint and is easy to integrate into existing process setups, it is ideal for small and mid-sized producers seeking a fat control system that does not require in-house experts or lengthy installation:
“The software supplied with the XDS Direct Light system can be used by production personnel and requires little prior training and the interface can be customised to specific requirements.”
The software also includes recommendations for operators on how to reach the defined fat content target level as well as enabling intuitive recipe handling, according to the company.
Simonson said that the XDS Direct Light system can be adapted to also monitor protein and moisture in ground meat through calibration development:
“The system is collecting spectra from the meat it is scanning and this includes information about the content of protein and moisture.”
He added that all measurements can be stored in the system for up to a year, thus enabling traceability of products.
Since July 2003, the EU restricted the definition of meat to mean the skeletal-attached muscles. Other animal parts such as fat and offal have to be labelled as such and not as ‘meat’. Fat that adheres to the muscles may be treated as meat, subject to the maximum limits determined by the EU's directive.
The law also requires processors to label their products with the percentages of muscle-meat, fat or offal content. The directive applies to products that contain meat as an ingredient, while meat sold without further processing is excluded.