CT scanning used to put the quality label on sheep meat
UK's Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) have joined forces to promote a tech project that can put a label of quality on sheep meat before the animals are slaughtered.
The project is responding both to the consumer demand for a better meat and to farmers for a better genetic selection in their herds. Using data from sheep which have been CT (Computed Tomography) scanned, scientist involved in this project are able to measure the fat and muscle content of sheep. CT scanning is just the tip of the iceberg according to AHDB, which has also been using other technology in its range of approaches to assess meat-eating quality. These include an electronic ‘bite test’, known as a texture analyser, which is used to test the tenderness of meat. The wider industry has also been working with video image analysis (VIA), which detects and quantifies carcase composition and saleable meat distribution.
"We’d like consumers to know the farming community works tirelessly to provide the best in sustainable quality. Our work is focused on delivering genetic evaluations that will enable the industry to become more efficient and provide high-quality produce.
To those outside of the farming community, CT scanning might appear a novel technology, but we now have decades of data behind us and future advancements hold great potential for the industry. We have a role to help the public understand how innovation is used to deliver the products that they pick up on the shelves", said Kim Matthews, AHDB's Head of Animal Breeding and Product Quality.
The advantage given by the use of CT machines allows scientist and farmers to read everything from spine length to eye muscle area, to intramuscular fat levels in order to select the best breeding animals and also to deliver the best quality cuts to the consumer.
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