Early identification of pork belly firmness: effect of flank fold and conveyor angle


Uttaro, B., Zawadski, Juarez, M. (2018) Early identification of pork belly firmness: effect of flank fold and conveyor angle. CMSA/CMC Annual Meeting, May 29-31, 2018, Montreal PQ


Factors affecting potential gravity-driven on-line sorting of primal pork bellies into firmness categories were explored. A total of 740 bellies were removed from left sides of pork carcasses following the Canadian carcass breaking standards. A point 24 cm from the caudal end was marked and each belly placed skin-down, caudal end forward, on a manually-operated conveyor which was then advanced at 6-8 cm/s and stopped when the marked point was reached. The angle to which the belly had bent at stopping (Stop0) as well as at -1, -2, 5, and 10 seconds from stopping was measured. Bellies were then sheet-ribbed and subjectively scored on 5 point scales for floppyness; fat firmness, depression, and oiliness; and lean firmness. Bellies (576) were tested on a 30° incline, 226 of which were flattened to remove the flank fold. A further 164 flattened bellies were tested on a horizontal (0°) belt.

Combining stepwise regression results and operational considerations, Stop0 was found to be the optimal point for belly angle measurement relative to belly firmness, for all belly and conveyor conditions. At Stop0 on 30°, belly bend angle prediction from subjective scores was similar for both flattened and unflattened bellies (r2 = 0.72; RMSE = 10.45 and 12.31, respectively). Both methods accounted for ribbed belly floppyness, and lean and fat firmness. Performance comparison of flattened bellies at 30° and 0° revealed that a stronger relationship existed for bellies advanced on the inclined than on the horizontal conveyor (respectively: r2 = 0.72, RMSE = 10.45; r2 = 0.64, RMSE = 8.25). At 0° only belly floppyness was accounted for. Overall, belly firmness appeared to be best predicted on the 30° inclined conveyor regardless of flank fold.

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