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TRIMSCAN Report Summary

Project ID: 605758
Funded under: FP7-SME
Country: Spain

Final Report Summary - TRIMSCAN (TRIMSCAN, making SME meat processors more competitive by using automatic in-line fat analysis in meat trimmings)

Executive Summary:
(Figure 1 Project Logo)
Meat 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 made of meat trimmings mainly from pork or beef or from a mixture of both types of meat. The EU28 is the world’s second largest producer of pork and beef trimmings with about 17 million tones by year.

(Figure 2 Meat Products)
Trimmings are produced at abattoir and cutting plants and are typically sold either fresh or in frozen blocks to meat processors in standard plastic bins. Trimmings bins are pre-classified at abattoir to a specific amount of Lean/Fat (e.g. 90/10, 80/20, 70/30, 60/40, 50/50, etc.). This pre-classification is typically carried out by experienced and trained operators who manually cut the meat from whole parts of the carcass to achieve the target Lean/Fat content. Natural variation of fat content in meat trimmings is around ± 5 %. Even with precise carcass classification and employees with long experience, large variations in fat levels are unavoidable.

(Figure 3 Meat Trimmings)
A batch of trimmings is paid according to its nominal amount of Lean/Fat (e.g. 90/10, 80/20, etc.), the lower the fat content the higher the market value. Visual classification of trimming bins is not precise and subjective and causes larges variations in the final composition of the bins which often represents a cause of dispute between the provider and the customer.
For meat processing companies, the control of fat in the incoming raw material is of vital importance to ensure homogeneity and quality of the final product, to reduce the lean meat overuse, and also to comply with legislation and/or customer specifications. Fat variations above 3 percent produces substantial economic loses and a number of quality defects and industrial problems. Quality control techniques based on off-line analysis, requires manual sampling, are time consuming, inaccurate and inadequate for real in line blending and compensation.
The EU has funded the TRIMSCAN project ( aimed to develop a contactless, in-line fat analyser that automatically determine the fat content in Eurnorm plastic bins with an accuracy better than 1.5%. Unlike other inspection technologies, TRIMSCAN allows to scan 100% of the trimmings in plastic bins at line speed. The technology used in TRIMSCAN requires low maintenance. The machine can be easily adapted and interface to the processing line without modification of the plant layout. TRIMSCAN provides meat processors and abattoirs with a practical tool to make them more competitive by controlling fat content in-line. TRIMSCAN allows meat processors to reduce lean meat overuse and the need of using time consuming sampling associated to off-line fat analysers.
Potential customers for the TRIMSCAN system are abattoirs companies and meat processors producing elaborated products from beef and/or pork trimmings, including products like sausages and hamburgers. In case of slaughterhouses, target companies are those working with pre-classified bins of fresh trimmings, interested in adjust the content of the batch to be deliver to their customer.
Results obtained at industrial level in a pork abattoir and in a meat processing plant, have shown the potential of the technology to make an accurate estimation and control of the % fat in trimming bins. TRIMSCAN technology will contribute to the continued growth of the European meat processing sector by improving product quality, and control.

(Figure 4 TRIMSCAN system)

Project Context and Objectives:
Project context:
The TRIMSCAN technology has been developed throughout the grant allocated to a research and innovation project, the TRIMSCAN project, co-funded by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development of the European Union. More precisely, the TRIMSCAN project belongs to the broad area ‘Research for the Benefit of the SMEs’ of the Capacities Programme, focus on empowering European SMEs in the development of breakthrough innovative ideas into close-to market solutions. SMEs beneficiaries of this specific EU programme are granted funds which allow them to subcontract specific research and demonstration tasks to prestigious research centres (RTD performers).
The challenge of the TRIMSCAN project was identified by the manufacturer company Lenz Instruments (LENZ) and discussed among a venture of five companies (four SMEs and a large company - OTHER), both technological and end-user companies, which assessed the possibility to develop a pre-competitive technology for the on-line determination of the fat content in meat trimming bins. The TRIMSCAN Consortium resulted in a very complementary group of small, medium and large enterprises that all have specific competences to cover both the manufacturing, distribution, industrialization and commercialization process of the new technology, based on knowledge and competences of the lead-user SME partner and coordinator of the project, LENZ.
The consortium is formed by two research institutes, The Danish Technological Institute (Tasstrup, Denmark) and the Stazione Sperimentale Industria Conserve Alimentari (Parma, Italy), three SMEs, LENZ Instruments (Barcelona, Spain) and GM Steel Fabricators (Dundalk, Ireland), providing engineering, fabrication and consultancy services in the meat sector, and STEVIA kft (Budapest, Hungary) a distributor of machinery for the meat processing sector and two end-users, Golfera in Lavezzola S.p.A. a company especilised in in the production of cooked, seasoned salami and meat and SASSI S.p.A (Colorno, Italy) a pork abattoir.
Meat trimmings are the main ingredient used for the production of many meat processed products like sausages and hamburgers. The EU is the world’s second largest producer of pork and beef meat trimmings with 17 million tones by year. Trimmings are typically produced at abattoir and sold plastic bins. Trimming bins are manually prepared by trained operators to obtain specific fat content. The bins are then paid by meat processors according to the amount of fat. The lower the fat content the higher the market value. However, fat content in meat trimmings is not precise having variations in the order of ±5% which often represents a cause of dispute between the slaughterhouse and the processor.
In meat processing, the control of fat in meat trimmings is of vital importance to ensure homogeneity and quality of the final product, to reduce the lean meat over-use and to comply with legislation and customer specifications. 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. Manual sampling, recipe adjustment, poor binding capacity and problems during slicing of the product are the most important industrial problems.
The proposed solution consists in the development of an in-line fat analyser to scan pork and beef trimming bins based on Magnetic Induction. Magnetic Induction is a contactless measurement method that allows to determine the passive dielectric properties of meat. This technology comply with all the requirements of the industry for a machine that provides in-line determination of fat content at process speed (up to 900 bins per hour), automatic and contactless analysis, low maintenance, and cost affordable for the vast majority of meat processing companies and abattoirs.

(Figure 5 TRIMSCAN solution)

Competitive Advantages for meat processors:
The total West European Processed Meat market grew to €121.7 billion in 2015, with continued growth of the total market forecast at an average annual rate of 1.1% during the 2015-2020 period. Although the market is strong and growing, there is significant concern for SME producers in regards to market consolidation of major manufacturers. Moreover, the growing consumer demand to buy natural products with lower fat and lower salt and the need to offer these products at a competitive price makes necessary an optimisation of the traditional meat processing lines.
The TRIMSCAN system provides meat processors with a practical tool at an affordable cost to make them more competitive by reducing the expensive lean meat over-use and to avoid the need of inaccurate and time consuming manual sampling and recipe reformulation. TRIMSCAN significantly improves the production of processed meat 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 of specifications. The precise control of fat avoids a number of industrial problems like poor texture and appearance, excessive drying and product spoilage.
TRIMSCAN also contributes to raise the standards of quality in the EU meat processing sector by providing the suppliers of meat bins (abattoira and cutting rooms) with a machine that allow them to meet specific customer demands. Therefore, even small meat processors could have access to raw material with a specific fat content, helping them to reduce profit looses and to produce a homogeneous product.

(Figure 6 Product Standarisation)

Project Objectives:
TRIMSCAN have addressed the following fundamental scientific and technical objectives:
• To investigate the use of an innovative characterisation technology for the in-line determination of fat in meat trimmings, and its applicability to industrial operation.
• To further the knowledge of the dielectrical properties in fresh and frozen meat trimmings.
• To establish correlation models between the dielectrical properties in meat trimmings with the fat content. Correlations models will be established from trimmings from different sources (pork and beef), different trimming size (3cm to 30cm).
• Development of a Magnetic Induction module, and its application to the determination of fat content in fresh pork and beef trimmings
• Development of calibration and prediction models
• Development, test and integration of a pre-industrial unit to integrate the MI module, weighting system, control system and communication interface.
• Industrial validation in an operation environment (Meat processor and abattoir).

Project Results:

A Magnetic Induction has been deloped for the inspection of meat trimming bins. Technical and operational specifications has been defined in colaboration with end-users GOLFERA (sausage producer) and SASSI (slaughterhouse).
Different sensor configurations has been proposed and evaluated. The sensors has been designed by means of 3D Electromagnetic simulations. The main objective of this design was to develop a sensor module capable to provide a homogenous Magnetic Field Induction and confinement in the bin. The instrumentation and electromagnetic sensors has been developed to implement the Magnetic Induction module.
A laboratory test rig has been developed to contain the Magnetic Induction model. Several coil configurations has been tested. The laboratory system has been manufactured to perform trials with meat trimmings at laboratory scale. The laboratory system includes a conveyor belt to pass the trimming bins through the eectromagnetic scanner, the electromagnetic sensors, an electromagnetic shield, and the electronic instrumentation and control system required to perform the anylisis. DTI has been in charge of stablishing correlations between dielectric parameters of the meat and the Fat content.

(Figure 7 Lab prototype)


The first step was to define the most appropiate reference methods to be used for the characterisation of pork and beef trimmings. DTI was in charge of defining the reference methods. The dielectric charaxterisation of trimmings has been carried out with the Magnetic Induction module (lab prototype) on a wide number of beef and pork trimming bins with different fat percentages ranging from 5% to 45%.
The relationships between fat content assessed by reference methods proposed by DTI and the Magnetic Induction module readings has been stablished. The experiments has been carried out with meat trimming of different sizes.
Meat quality predictive models for fresh meat based on dielectrical information obtained by TRIMSCAN system has been developed for pork and beef trimmings. Additional parameters such as weight has been introduced in the models.
Two different prediction models has been developed for pork and beef trimmings. The physical parameters that affect the dielectric measurements has been identified. A set of technical specifications has been also defined for the design and development of the pre-industrial version of TRIMSCAN.

(Figure 8 Trimming Characterisation)

Previous manufcaturing of the industrial prototype, consortium partners have defined a set of technical and functional specifications, together with the required design guidelines for the prototype which has been defined taking into account the recommendations given during the characterisation of meat trimmings with the laboratory prototype. Partners also proposed several concept designs for the TRIMSCAN machine based in real case scenarios (abattoir cutting rooms and meat processing facilities). The module cencepts has been conceived to ease the adaptability of the system to different pork and beef meat sorting lines, machine certification (EC directives) as well as to future system upgrades.
The industrial version of the prototype has been designed based on the proposed conceptual designs and taking into account technical and functional specifications previosuly defined. The machine has been designed to be a modular system including: 1) Mechanical structure (bench) that supports the magnetic induction module, 2) Sensor head receptacle, 3) Conveyor belt, 4) Weighting system, 5) Communication interfaces and 6) Ancillary elements.
The different modules or parts forming the industrial prototype has been manufactured and assembled into a single unit properly conditioned to operate in the meat processing environment. The system includes all improvements proposed during the characterisation of trimmings at lab scale.
The industrial prototype has been pre-calibrated to measure beef and pork timming bins at SSICA before the industrial validation. New models has been developed by means pork and and beef trimming bins and comparing the TRIMSCAN output data with the laboratory analysis for the determination of lean and fat content. To this end, a statistically significant number of trimming bins has been prepared and analysed by the TRIMSCAN system. The pre-calibration of the system has been made at the facilities of SSICA. The accuracy of the prediction models developed has been determined.
At batch level the system works accurately with trimmings up to 20cm. The accuracy obtained is better than 1.5%. At bin level (20-30kg) the system works precisely with trimmings up to 10-15cm with an accuracy better than <1.5 as expected.

(Figure 9 Prototype manufacturing)


The TRIMSCAN system has been installed at two end users facilities, one pork abattoir (SASSI SpA) producing different kind of pork trimmings and in a sausage producer (GOLFERA SpA) using pork and beef trimmings.

(Figure 10 Integration at a pork abattoir (SASSI)
(Figure 11 Integration at a meat processing facility (GOLFERA)

Fat Control In Dry-Cured Sausage Elaboration

Validation trials has been carried out during several months at end users facilities. At Golfera, the TRIMSCAN system has been validated in the production of a specific Salami with a very low fat content (8-14%). The system was first tested with 27 batches of 700kg approximately and validated with another 27 batches. The referece method used was chemical extraction (Soxhlet) made on several sample of 200g taken from the batch once it was grinded and homogenised. The accuracy obtained with TRIMSCAN system was 1.1%.

Fat Control In Hamburguer Elaboration

TRIMSCAN system has been also validated for the production of beef Hamburger. The validation was made on 10 batches of beef trimmings with fat content ranging from 8%-16%. The prediction error obtained was 1.3%.

Fat Control At Abattoir

TRIMSCAN system has been validated at abattoir level to control de Fat content in a batch of pork trimmings. The number of batch analysed was 40. Typical size of the batch was about 150kg. Each batch contained 15 bins approximately. The percentage fat range used during the validation trial varied from 10% to 25%. The prediction error obtained in this test was higher RMSE ≈ 3%. The higher prediction error observed during this validation test was due to the limited accuracy of the reference method employed which was limited to perform a single chemical analysis in one of the 15 bins of each batch.
The results derived from the industrial validation demonstrates that the TRIMSCAN system works in an operation environment.

Potential Impact:
With an estimated number 28 thousand SMEs, sausage manufacture is an important segment of the EU meat industry. The total Western European fresh and processed meat market reached €273 billion in 2014. Cured meats and delicatessen products represent 57% of this market, with dry-cured fermented and non-fermented sausages as main products. Germany, Italy and Spain account for approximately 80% of EU production of dry sausages .

In 2014, the EU sausage production reached 5.61 million tones valued to €19.46 billion. Germany is the biggest market for sausages in EU, the country consumes Tm 1.42M or 30% of total EU28 demand. Other European industry leaders include Spain and the UK. Spain's production of dry sausage products has grown by 36% in the past decade, up to 193,000 tonnes. The Spanish dry sausage production sector is a competitive industry with significant export potential. In the last ten years, Spain's export of dry sausage products increased from 15,249 to 22,110 tonnes per year.

The sausage market in the UK is also significant. In 2007, the UK consumed 189,000 tonnes of sausages, with retail sales valued at £530 million, which is equivalent to a 23% increase in value and a 17% increase in volume since 2000.

In addition, consumers in new member states such as Romania are now filling their shopping baskets with “novelty” items such as processed meats. While in many of these countries meat consumption is low compared to Western Europe, processed meat products are becoming more popular. Dry cured products such as salami are also extremely popular in the rest of the Mediterranean, and are an important Italian export commodity. Italy has recorded increased output, with salami production coming in at 1,128 tonnes for a value of €7.82 million, equivalent to a growth of 6.1%.

Despite the high consumption of meat processed products in Europe, EU SMEs are facing increased competition in the processed meat sector from multinational consolidation. Large processed meat companies mass produce near artisan-style sausage at more competitive prices. In addition, sausage processing technology has changed significantly over the past several years, and small sausage manufacturers are facing mounting pressure from multinational companies.

The traditional manufacture of sausage processed products does not allow the same consistency of product appearance and quality. The proposed TRIMSCAN technology solve the problem associated with varying quality in meat processed products. TRIMSCAN analyses the fat content in meat bins and permit to standardize entire batches for the production of sausages and other products derived from meat trimmings thus optimizing production capability and quality control of the automated production system. In-line measurements of the fat content in bins facilitates the application of early corrective actions (before grinder), assuring uniformity in quality, and thereby increasing productivity and competitiveness of end-user SMEs. Future rollout of the technology to non-consortium members will provide additional value as the proposed technology is incorporated EU-wide. In addition to the Western European market, emerging EU countries also represent a burgeoning market for SME end users who will increase their competitiveness by utilizing the TRIMSCAN technology.


The main potential markets of application of TRIMSCAN correspond to meat suppliers (abattoirs and cutting rooms) and meat processors. The product addressed the market, as a branded product to be incorporated into existing meat processing lines.
From a global European perspective, the following potential benefits should be highlighted:
The availability of an improved fat control technology will revert in more homogeneous and quality products, which will also generate substantial benefits among meat processors through the generation of premium segments (“extra category”). Moreover, compliance with highest quality standards will avoid downgrading part of the production with unsuitable final fat contents.
The development of “low fat and low salt” dry-cured products is a niche market. This segment is expected to have a significant demand among European citizens, which are becoming more and more concerned with fat and sodium intake effects. In 2015, the EU sausage production reached 5.67 million tines valued to €20.1 billion.
Finally, it should be taken into account the substantial benefits arising from lean meat over-use that could be reduced by at least 1-2%.


TRIMSCAN performs the measurement in meat trimmings bins (before the grinder) which for some companies represents an important industrial advantage. The system scans 100% of the trimmings thus providing a superior accuracy in the estimation of fat (RMSEP <1.5%). Current systems analysing fat in ground meat (after grinder) requires adding fat or lean to the batch which lead to homogenization problems and time consuming operations.

Magnetic Induction is a relative inexpensive technology that permits to offer the system at a very competitive price which will be very attractive for the vast majority of SME producers and processors thus leading to reach a significant market share compare to competitors. Unlike other fat analysers, TRIMSCAN maintenance costs are very low compare to other tecnologies and can be installed in a existing conveyor avoiding the maintenance of movable parts and the modification of the plant layout.
TRIMSCAN scans 100% of meat trimmings thus providing very good accuracy (<1.5%) even for small batches of product. The technology allows fast measurement making the system suitable for intensive operations at abattoir.

TRIMSCAN solve important barriers of current off-line technologies described in the table in Figure 12.


The meat industry is working to standardise products more closely and this, in turn requires standardise production processes and raw materials. Meat processors are becoming increasingly strict with specification for trimmings that have to be included in the delivered quality standard.
Fat control permits to reduce the amount of salt required in the processing of meat products. Salt is added for its taste and binding capacity, but also to enhance other flavours, to preserve the product by inhibiting spoilage micro-organisms. Thus, reformulation is not a task of simply lowering the salt content to the desired level. The technological challenge is to reduce salt levels while maintaining taste, texture and other product quality attributes, including safety. This project contributes to the general objectives of the European Union policy that promotes high level of food quality in order to improve the competitiveness of the European meat sector, and to promote the consumption of healthy meat products (low fat/low salt content) among EU citizens.
TRIMSCAN will contribute to the development of new quality standards, provided that it will allow establishing precise fat control in meat products and will contribute to reduce salt intake in meat processed products.


TRIMSCAN will contribute to the continued growth of the meat sector as well as to increase the trust of EU consumers by providing consortium SMEs, and eventual users, with a system that allow the production of a more consistent and better final product with regard to its sensory features. EU consumer associates quality with taste and the perception of meat being healthy and safe.
The work programme, as well as the potential benefits of the project, will provide collaborative opportunities for SMEs of the consortium and standardize an important aspect of production. Consequently, TRIMSCAN will be more effective and increase the knowledge base of consortium SME producers, provide them tools to expand their businesses, and support employment growth in the industry. Furthermore, TRIMSCAN will assist in competing against tougher competition from non-EU countries and “New World” countries.

On the other hand, TRIMSCAN will contribute to the objectives marked by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the EU Framework for National Salt Reduction initiatives who recommends that adults consume no more than 5 g salt per person per day, yet actual consumption in EU today is substantially higher at 8-12 g. High consumption of sodium, is a well-established risk factor for high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases. Reducing intakes to recommended levels would benefit public health and then efforts to achieve this are being made by national authorities, non-governmental organisations and food industry.

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