The European meat industry is valued at approximately 70 billion ecus. It accounts for about one third of total agricultural produce. Presently the meat industry faces many challenges which have resulted in a decrease in meat consumption. These challenges derive from many sources especially increasing consumer demands for more healthful and convenient foods, consistent quality, more information and animal welfare. Consequently there is a strong case for the meat industry to be more market-led and less commodity based.
The greatest problem for the meat industry in achieving this is the variability in quality of its own product. Despite much work in understanding the scientific basis of meat quality attributes (tenderness, colour, waterholding capacity, juiciness), their evaluation, prediction and control remain elusive within the meat processing plant (i.e. within 48 hours post-slaughter, before despatch). Presently quality can only, in the main, be assessed by the end user and consumer after purchase. Apart from pH, temperature and some visual assessment, there are no indicators measured for quality parameters in terms of sensory attributes, technological properties and nutritional composition.
The main objectives are :
- to detect and quantify important quality indicators of meat by means of novel
physical and chemical markers at the early post-mortem period;
- to predict meat quality at factory level in order to guarantee its commercial quality
for the end user and eating quality for the consumers;
- to improve the quality of European beef, pork and lamb through strategic
measurements and selections based on novel quality indicators.
A team of eight multi-national partners has been assembled with tremendous expertise in the fields of physical and chemical measurements in the areas of medicine, biology and biochemistry. They include medical, food, biochemical, biological, engineering, and industrial personnel from research hospitals, research institutes, universities, industry, with state of the art facilities.
This team will work on new and emerging technologies which are capable of defining quality in terms of physical parameters (NMR, ultrasound, NIR, elastography, autofluorescence, image analysis, electronic probes) and chemical indicators (blood metabolites, protein fragments, amino acid changes). In a highly coordinated manner, these parameters will be correlated to sensory attributes, technological properties and nutritional composition. The proposal includes industrial appraisal elements (i.e. how feasible can these measurements be made at industrial level within 48 hours) and end user and consumer components (i.e. can meat be marketed with a known quality grade based on the indicators and can end users and consumers detect the consistency in quality). Consequently the results will be highly exploitable and technology transfer will be possible.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
115 22 Athens
Shillelagh Co Wicklow
244 24 Kävlinge