Pilot 6: Development of non invasive technologies for assessment of fat content in order to select good meat quality

On-line, non-destructive technologies are in the focus in order to assess fat content of fresh loins and green hams from different genetic lines and carcass weights.

The information about the fat content is very important regarding:

  • the amount of added salt
  • diffusion mechanisms
  • processing weight losses
  • the degree of salt concentration in the final product (e.g. technical and nutritional topics).

Therefore, the results provided by the pilot chain are important for several companies within the pork processing sector, especially at abattoir or dry-cured meat industry.


Now online (June 2012) - updated description of Pilot Chain 6



Description of Pilot 6


1.) What is the main objective of the pilot chain?

The overall objective of this pilot chain is to evaluate on-line, non-destructive technologies which could be used in industrial environment (abattoir and dry-cured meat industry) in order to assess fat content of fresh loins (m. Longissimus dorsi) and green hams from different genetic lines and carcass weights.


2.) Please explain the status quo of the activities within the pilot chain.

The AutoFom system and NMR (magnetic resonance relaxometry) apparatus at an Italian company and ham categorizator in Spain have been set up. Additionally, DXA  (dual energy x-ray absorptiometry) system has been rented. Preliminary results have been obtained for ham categorizator. During May 2010 different groups of hams will be evaluated.


 3.) Which results can be expected in the further course of the project?

It is expected to obtain:

- protocols for an on-line, non-destructive determination of green hams and loin fat content adapted to industrial purposes.

- calibration models in order to estimate fat content in green ham (AutoFom, ham categorizator and DXA systems) and in fresh loin (NMR, ham categorizator and DXA systems).


 4.) How can these results be realised (e.g. which technology is used etc.)?

The equipments will be based on ultrasound (AutoFom), which is used for carcass classification at the abattoir, and on magnetic resonance relaxometry, electromagnetic measurements (ham categorizator) and Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry.


 5.) What are the main steps in the next period?

- Definition of measurement protocols and calibration models for fat content

- Protocol validation

- Dissemination of pilot or demonstration chain results


 6.) What are the innovative aspects of the pilot chain compared to the status quo of the pig and pork sector?

This pilot and demonstration chain can provide the pork chain industry with the possibility of measuring the fat level in green hams (marker of technological quality of dry cured ham) and IMF of fresh loins (marker of sensory quality for fresh pork consumption). Moreover, it is that variability in salt content and weight losses will be reduced.


7.) How can these results apply to other companies in the sector?

It is expected that results of this pilot chain will boost other companies to use the more appropriate technology for each company.


8.) Please explain the collaboration within the Q-PorkChains Project.

E.g. which other modules are integrated in the pilot chain etc.


Module 3 is integrated in this pilot chain.



The team of the sixth pilot chain consists of the following partners:

Business partner:

Italcarni Società Cooperativa Agricola

CRPA SPA (Centro ricerche produzioni animali s.p.a.)

Stazione Sperimentale per l’industria delle conserve alimentari

Jamones Segovia S.A.


Research partner:

IRTA (institut de recerca i tecnologia agroalimentaries)

University of Bologna



GIQS e.V. (Trans Border Integrated Quality Assurance)


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