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  • Pig Secrets Revealed Through Spectroscopy
Nov 2010
MONTREAL, Nov. 5, 2010 — Which are the best pieces of pork, what their texture is, how moist they are — the secrets pigs keep from even the most skilled butchers — are about to be revealed, thanks to a sophisticated technique that has been developed by McGill University researchers in conjunction with Agriculture Canada and the pork industry.

“This is about giving industry workers better tools to do their job,” said Michael Ngadi of McGill’s Department of Bioresource Engineering. “Computer-aided analysis of meat will result in higher-quality jobs, optimal production and exports that fit more closely with the target markets.”

Analysis of meat quality by spectroscopy. (Photo: Dept. of Bioresource Engineering, McGill University)

The technology involves spectroscopy. By measuring the wavelengths of reflected light that pork cuts release, the researchers discovered they could easily determine the color, texture and exudation, or water release, of the meat. The technique is revolutionary, as previous laboratory techniques had involved destroying the testing sample.

“The technique enables production workers to conduct objective and scientific analysis of the meat very quickly on the production line,” Ngadi said. It means the meat can be more accurately sorted according to the quality demanded by different export markets.

The research is not far from leaving the laboratory and entering factories, according to Ngadi. “We are currently looking for partners who will work with us to build a ready-to-use device for a commercial production line,” he said.

The researchers are also looking to extend the technique for the evaluation of other aspects of meat quality, such as marbling and fat content.

This study was part of a project supported by funding from the Natural Science and Engineering Council of Canada and le Fonds québécois de la recherche sur la nature et les technologies.

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