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Automated and objective characterization of comminuted meat properties for valorization of high quality processed meat

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MEAQUAS (Automated and objective characterization of comminuted meat properties for valorization of highquality processed meat)

Reporting period: 2017-03-01 to 2017-07-31

Processed meat products (e.g. sausages) made with comminuted meat has growingly become a popular solution for highly nutritive yet affordable meat for consumption. The main substance is minced meat produced from primary cuts or from manually recovered meat form carcasses or bones. The meat can also be produced by mechanical means; however, current legislation stipulates that if the meat has been recovered mechanically it is not to be considered as meat due to its extensive level of degradation and if used should be labelled as an ingredient, signifying that all types of mechanical recovered meat is of low quality and unfit for human consumption. That legislation focus on the use of mechanical recovery of the products rather than the quality of the final product primarily stems from the absence of technology to properly differentiate quality traits regarding the structural degradation of muscle tissue, and has led to what we now know the wrong concept that all mechanically separated meat is of inferior quality compared to manually recovered comminuted meat and even some minced meat products.

The overall project goal is thus to overcome barriers and challenges associated with the commercialization of tools for the objective classification of the quality of comminuted meat including change of legislation, which will improve i) the transparency to the consumer regarding the product value; ii) the competitiveness of EU companies (meat companies and meat processing equipment manufacturers); and iii) the fairness of transactions on the processed meat product markets (intra-Europe and overseas).
In the present project, the business plan of the MEAQUAS consortium was prepared, including the detailed analysis of market potential, preparation of relevant use-cases and definition of the to-market strategy. In addition, a small scale technical validation of the applicability of the core technology was performed, extending the business potential to also pig and turkey meat.

In addition, key contacts with policymakers and regulatory authorities were performed during the Phase 1 project implementation, which were complemented with the preparation of the maturation of the current reference method to a fully developed European standard.
The maturation and market roll-out of our technology has the potential to support a paradigm change in EU’s meat industry, serving as technical cornerstone and key enabler towards a revision of current legal definitions to better defend EU consumers and protect the EU meat industry from low-quality products from oversea competitors.

On the long term, objective re-grading of high quality mechanically separated meat has the potential to unlock a direct yearly value pool in the region of 200M€ for meat processors EU-wide, while indirect economic impact could surpass €1bn to the EU meat industry.