In Europe, an important sector of dry-cured meat products relies on high quality dry-cured hams (PDO, PGI), that are still regarded by the consumer as wholesome and traditional products. To preserve competitiveness in global market, dry-cured ham processors need an improved technology to control the salting treatment, a key step to warrant the expected final quality. Moreover, the salt content in dry‐cured hams has become a major concern in terms of public health, because of the established relations between salt intake, hypertension and associated vascular diseases. Therefore, dry‐cured meat producers are increasingly interested in the development of new segment of dry-cured hams with reduced salt content. ProCured is aimed to develop and implement a new system enabling the control of the salting stage during dry-cured ham processing. The proposed solution relies on in-line modules, based on a fast and non-invasive technology, which measures the ham traits related to salt uptake and the absorbed salt amount during salting. The system is equipped with an Artificial Neural Network software, trained to provide salting parameters according to raw ham properties and target salt content. This system represents a benefit for the European SMEs meat processors who could improve the homogeneity of their traditional production and develop newly prepared healthier dry-cured hams with reduced salt in compliance with Regulation 1924/2006 and bearing the claim “reduced salt”. In terms of product marketing, it is expected to provide an effective tool to make the “ProCured” ham a distinctive item compared to competitors. The consortium includes dry-cured processors (GALLONI, CENT) appointed for validation of the technology, and leader SMEs in the sector of services and machinery for the meat processing industry (LENZ, ROSER, STEVIA, STRASSER), which will develop a pre-commercial system available to companies at the end of the project. Scientific support is provided by RTDs (ATEKNEA, IRTA, SSICA). On 23 January 2014, the kick-off meeting was held in Parma, to put forward the general reference architecture which will be the basis for the work to be carried out.
Austria, Spain, Hungary, Italy