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Development of portable nuclear magnetic resonance equipment for non-destructive determination of beef tenderness


The objective of this project is to develop a portable version of unilateral (or surface) nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) equipment, capable of determining the tenderness of the beef in a non-destructive way, in already packaged cuts for commercialization. This information can be used by all companies involved in the marketing of beef, such as slaughterhouses, supermarkets, meat shops, restaurants, as well as in the scientific community, universities and research institutes. For this, a software will be developed that will need to be supplied with information on the shear force (tenderness) of the meat cuts, relating the measurements taken in the equipment and those measurements in a texturometer with a Warner Bratzler blade attached. One of the justifications is that, with the use of this equipment, this meat information is generated in seconds, whereas with the traditional technique it takes at least two days for the result to be obtained. The cut meat used will be the filet (longissimus) and will be analyzed 200 in total. Another objective of the present project is to evaluate whether different programs will be needed within the software for aging times other than the striploin, since this process is used to improve meat tenderness. For this, each file will be divided into four parts, and each of these parts will be packed in a vacuum; the times of 0, 3, 5 and 7 days of aging will be evaluated. After each of these times, shear force measurements will be made by the equipment and the texturometer. The curves of each of the aging times will be compared statistically and the appropriate measures taken in the software, if different. This evaluation of the objective aging will help the slaughterhouses in the reduction of the time of stay in cold chambers of the meat cuts destined to the aging, thus reducing the expenses with the consumption of electric energy by the cold chamber and reducing the need of space, besides increasing the cash flow because the product stands still, waiting for the moment of commercialization. The company FIT already has an NMR analytical equipment, the SpecFIT and it is possible to analyze the oil and moisture content in oilseeds, fat in food and chocolate, mixtures of oils such as olive oil and soy, and beef tenderness with reliability of the traditional method. The SpecFIT NMR equipment, however, is non-portable and destructive, since the meat has to be minced and placed inside the equipment. Therefore, the objective is to build a non-destructive portable equipment, useful for various sectors of the beef production chain, but a number of technical-scientific challenges are expected to be overcome in the present project. In any case, what is intended is to convey to the consumer the information on the tenderness of the beef cut on the product label. It is also intended to greatly accelerate the attainment of the softness of bovine cuts in the academic environment. (AU)

Articles published in Pesquisa para Inovação FAPESP about research grant:
Brazilian firm develops ultra-fast method to test tenderness of beef cuts 
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