Project: Laboratory and Online Tools to Investigate Meat Structure

The difference between a meat cut, minced meat and mashed meat seems obvious: it is easy to perceive by touching or by viewing samples that these products do not have the same texture. However, there is so far no reliable method to quantify this difference. By scanning histological cuts we can understand that the difference in texture is due to the loss or modification of the muscle fibres structure under the influence of mechanical action. We call this phenomenon the "destructuration"._x000D__x000D_In the actual context of food crisis, European Union wants to reassure and to protect consumers. That is what 853/2004 regulation does, by stating that the "loss or modification of the muscle fibre structure" is the element that distinguishes Mechanically Separated Meat (MSM) from other meat raw materials. Meat raw materials qualified as MSM are subjected to specific labelling and they are excluded from the calculation of the percentage of meat. Therefore, their prices (0.74 € / kg in average) is about half the price of other raw materials considered as meat although they are also recovered by mechanical methods (1.55 € / kg in average). However, the recent development of mechanical deboning processes gave birth to machines allowing producing both MSM and raw materials considered as meat in terms of their fibre structure. Moreover it is estimated that production in Europe is approximately 600,000 tons per year of raw materials (approximately 650 M€) made with these processes and their status varies according to the European countries. _x000D_Because reliable method to quantify destructuration does not exist, the design of such a method will bring more labelling transparency for consumers, and represents an important economical issue._x000D__x000D_To bring an efficient analytical tool to the industrials of the meat raw material market, two French SMEs and two Danish universities have chosen to associate their know-how._x000D__x000D_HISTALIM, a French SME specialist of histological analysis of meat products, has developed a laboratory method using histological cuts and an image analysis software to quantify the destructuration of muscle fibres (see Appendix 4 of consortium agreement). By involving 126 professionals to a panel of sensory evaluation carried out in 7 European countries in May 2007, HISTALIM has defined an indicator called MDI (Meat Destructuration Indicator), and thus a boundary between meat and MSM expressed as MDI. To allow its commercial development, this method should be developed so that it could be transferable to other laboratories in Europe. This involves not only the development of a simplified interface for the software, but also the creation of a user guideline._x000D__x000D_The Aarhus University (AU) (Denmark) has designed a method similar to HISTALIM. The two methods will be compared and the best one, called MDI-lab, will be chosen to be developed. Its characterisation will permit its accreditation and its recognition as an official method of control. In addition, it is necessary to design a training guide, an audit guideline, and an inter-laboratory ring test._x000D__x000D_In order to make possible the integration of the MDI method by manufacturers in their control plans, the recommendation in terms of control frequency must be defined. AU will lead this work. An approach similar to HACCP (Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Point) will study the influence of various factors on the level of destructuration of the raw materials produced. Also, to give this method a potential that goes beyond the European perimeter, the link between the level of destructuration of the used raw materials on a hand and technological and organoleptic properties of processed products on the other hand, will be established. We will also study the relationship between the level of destructuration and the microbiological development in meat raw materials._x000D__x000D_Besides this, in addition to the laboratory method, a non-destructive method for predicting the level of destructuration will be designed. This work will be piloted for the first stage by the University of Copenhagen (UCPH). Its department of food science has already conducted a feasibility study on the subject. Different types of sensors will be tested and the most relevant to an assessment of MDI will be selected. A model to obtain the MDI value will be established and then declined for different types of the most common meats. _x000D__x000D_CAPELEC, a French SME specialist of instrumentation for technical control will lead a second step to integrate the measurement system to an industrial device (MDI-analyser). A marketing approach conducted with a panel of industrialists will identify the CO technical characteristics required for this device. A prototype will be designed and developed. Finally, a phase of test and industrialisation will be necessary before the analyser commercialisation._x000D_

Acronym LOTIMS (Reference Number: 4309)
Duration 01/09/2008 - 31/07/2011
Project Topic The European regulation 853/2004 implies to monitor the muscle fibre structure to characterise meat raw materials as Mechanically Separated Meat or as 3-mm meat. To grab this opportunity, a laboratory system will be developed and a non destructive tool will be designed for industrial use.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
The CO purpose of the project was to develop a method, that cold be used to differentiate between qualities of mechanically separated meat (MSM meat), and to develop automated measuring systems to be used on- or at line at the production site. Furthermore the methods should be disseminated and accepted by relevant organizations. Alongside, running investigations of alternative quality traits in relation to the method and the influence of level of degradation on the development of microbial contamination. The CO results are: that a method has been developed and the method has been accepted by relevant organizations (among others CEN). A comparison of methods was performed. The selection of a sensor was started, and some initial results were obtained. However, due to communication problems, KU-LIFE decided to pull back from the project prior to the end of the project. Thus no clear conclusions were made from our part._x000D_
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 1

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
4 CAPELEC Partner France
4 Quality & Technology, Department of Food Science, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen Partner Denmark
4 University of Aarhus Partner Denmark
4 HISTALIM sarl Coordinator France