Best Practices

September 2014

How to meet consumer needs with nutritional claims

It’s a familiar story: Once foods or ingredients are labeled as bad by a segment of the culture such as salt, processed meats and red meat, there more...

Best practices in Salmonella sampling

In December 2012, in response to several Salmonella outbreaks, the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) published the HACCP Plan Reassessment of Not-Ready-to-Eat more...

AMSA Exclusive: Groundbreaking research at 67th RMC

The American Meat Science Association (AMSA) 67th Reciprocal Meat Conference was held in late June in Madison, hosted by the University of Wisconsin and more...

Antimicrobials to use with natural and clean labels

Antimicrobials are used in processed meat products to protect against spoilage bacteria and pathogens, predominantly Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat more...

August 2014

AMSA Exclusive: Instrument augmented assessment of USDA beef carcass quality grades

As the world embraces rapid advancements in electronic and computer technology, it is a natural progression and necessity for traditional industries such more...

Food safety trends in slicing logs

Listeria monocytogenes can be a concern for further processors as it is an environmental contamination. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) more...

July 2014

How to decrease water and electricity use for sustainable meat production

“Sustainable” food production has become an important consideration for all producers and processors. Processors of all sizes have made sustainability more...

How to improve product quality, save energy with optimal plant pressurization

Every morning, we typically wake up watching our favorite weather channel and plan our day accordingly. Regardless of our careful planning, there are more...

June 2014

How to perform a waste reuse analysis

For anyone involved in meat production, it is no surprise to hear that reducing waste and reusing manufacturing by-products, like trimmings, fats and more...

Tips for successful beef carcass grading

On average, there are approximately 27 months from the time cows are bred until their offspring are slaughtered. Proper pre-harvest feedlot nutrition more...

May 2014

How to get more value out of the pork loin and belly

When looking at the value of pork cuts throughout the pig, the entire pork industry is still looking for ways to find additional value for pork middle-meats more...

How to prevent food waste during distribution

There is an increasing awareness in the United States about increasing the food supply by decreasing food waste. Reducing food waste has become an important more...

April 2014

How animal care affects meat quality

The industry continues to have a difficult time shaking the common misconception that livestock are treated inhumanely prior to slaughter. Those welfare more...

Ten tips for a good recall plan

A food recall is a voluntary action by a manufacturer or distributor to protect the public from products that may be misbranded or could cause physical more...

March 2014

AMSA Exclusive: Scientific and physiological aspects of animal welfare

The accurate assessment of meat quality requires the consideration of multiple variables that define the characteristics of the specimen. The definition more...

How to optimize the quality of artisan meats

The production of artisan sausages and dried meats has increased in popularity over the last few years and is one of the top food trends in the United more...

Poultry Basics: How live hanging at the reception dock affects quality

Live broilers arrive at the plant either in plastic crates or in stand-alone or drawer containers. Unloading broilers prior to hanging from either plastic more...

February 2014

Three consequences of the growth of kosher and halal meats

Kosher and halal foods are a growing sector of the food processing industry. Based on religious beliefs that govern the production of pure, safe, acceptable more...

Focus on the smokehouse to improve yield

For thermal processed meat and poultry products, the smokehouse is where you can realize significant profit improvement potential with minimal capital more...

January 2014

Use of synthetic and natural antioxidants and antimicrobials to increase shelf-life, safety

This article will discuss the use of antimicrobial and antioxidant technology to increase the shelf-life of fresh sausage, cooked sausage and deli meats more...

A focus on non-meat ingredient functionality

Functional non-meat ingredients include a broad, diverse and continually growing group of ingredients that offer important contributions to processed more...

December 2013

Least cost formulations in sausage processing

Although meat is expensive, and meat cost is a large part of the breakeven cost of any sausage product, altering or degrading product quality is also more...

AMSA Exclusive: Emulsions and batters in meat binding

Editor's note: This is part of an occasional series of exclusive articles provided by authors commissioned by the American Meat Science Association in more...

Best ingredients for natural, clean labels

Many ingredients are used to provide desirable attributes in processed meat applications such as maximum yields, desirable texture, cured color, extended more...

November 2013

Maintaining both yields and food safety with brines and marinades

Brines and marinades can either be an essential part of ingredient formulation in products such as boneless hams, or can add flavors and improve tenderness more...

Cook-in-bag preparations: How to do it right

Cook-in-bag and film preparations are increasing in volume due to the demand for convenience, food safety, throughput, yield and shelf-life. Ingredient more...

Optimal chiller operation for adequate water pickup

Immersion water chilling is the most widely employed method by broiler processing companies to wash and cool carcasses. Its popularity is related to several more...

October 2013

Needle maintenance best practices

Needles in meat processing equipment are used for injection, tenderization -- or both.  Maintenance required for each type of needle varies as needles more...

September 2013

Assuring a pathogen-free packaging area

Found in most supermarkets, ready-to-eat (RTE) products such as pre-cooked and pre-sliced meat or poultry are gaining popularity with consumers because more...

An analysis of the method to evaluate texture

The textural properties of meat products are at least as important to consumers as the product flavor. However, texture is also one of the most challenging more...

August 2013

How to optimize sausage production with pork fat quality

The topic of pork fat quality has certainly gained a new respect in the meat industry. The present definition of “pork fat quality” has been more...

Three applications of antimicrobials post-chill

Currently, the poultry industry has relied largely on post-chill antimicrobial application to meet performance standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter more...

AMSA Exclusive: Fresh sausage production

Editor's note: This is part of an occasional series of exclusive articles provided by authors commissioned by the American Meat Science Association in more...

July 2013

Best practices for inline fat analysis

Quality and profitability are closely linked when producing and marketing meat products. Ensuring that product meets specification of fat and lean content more...

May 2013

How to design microwave RTE products

Consumer’s expectations of fresh prepared foods are increasing. The American palate is demanding more and more meal solution choices that include more...

April 2013

Best practices in controlling Salmonella

There has been an increase in the consumption of ground chicken and turkey as a healthier alternative to ground beef. While there has been an increase more...

The benefits of wing segmenting

Chicken wings have become a staple of casual dining and retail ready-to-eat meals. Otherwise known as buffalo wings, buffalo chicken wings or hot wings more...

March 2013

How to ensure proper water principles in controlling Listeria

Listeria monocytogenes is a food-borne pathogen that is the second top cause of death from foods in the United States. Listeria monocytogenes is a ubiquitous more...

Validation best practices for small processors

Validation is an essential part of HACCP and food safety systems. However, there is a lot of confusion over exactly what validation is, and how it fits more...

Best practices in food safety during sausage production

Thermal processing is still one of the most useful tools available to the meat and poultry industries to effectively eliminate or reduce-to-acceptable-levels more...

February 2013

The relevance of marbling to the beef industry

Since the first National Beef Quality Audit (NBQA) in 1991 – and recurring every five years – identified quality challenges that limit growth more...

The state of religious slaughter

The Jewish and Muslim communities have a set of dietary laws that control the food they eat. These are part of a larger set of laws that impact almost more...

January 2013

Controlling pathogens during poultry processing

Among the foodborne illnesses linked to poultry, Salmonella is estimated to be responsible for 35.1 percent of illnesses, whereas Campylobacter is responsible more...

Best practices in Listeria testing

Although it has been almost three decades since Listeria was recognized as a foodborne pathogen, there is still discussion on sampling and testing programs more...

December 2012

Maintenance 101: Refrigeration systems for poultry plants (part 4 of 4)

Both small and large refrigeration systems are designed to use liquid overfed evaporators to accomplish better heat transfer, easier adjustment of load more...

How to choose between manual and mechanical deboning

Chicken parts, which enjoy a great popularity among consumers for the convenience of cooking and consumption, are obtained from either manual or automatic more...

Worker Safety 101: Understanding the new GHS and hazard communication

The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), known as the Employee Right to Know Standard, has been around since 1983. OSHA has recently revamped the HCS more...

November 2012

Utilizing approved natural antimicrobials to control pathogens in ham

Natural and organic processed meats have been a very significant part of the explosive market growth that has occurred in the natural and organic foods more...

How kosher harvesting affects meat quality

Beef tenderness is one of the most researched attributes of cooked beef. This continued focus is due to the vast number of factors influencing tenderness more...

Maintenance 101: Picking machines in poultry processing (part 3 of 4)

In commercial chicken processing plants the feather removal occurs on-line in two distinct but interrelated and interdependent steps: scalding and mechanical more...

October 2012

Live bird reception: How to increase carcass quality and yield (part 2 of 2)

Market-age broilers are transported to the slaughterhouse either in containers or plastic crates. To prevent transportation mortality and safeguard against more...

Live bird reception: Managing stunning, killing and bleeding for better carcass quality (part 1 of 2)

Stunning, killing and bleeding are inseparable, interrelated operations. Together, they enjoy a major significance in the slaughter process as they can more...

Maintenance 101: Scalders in poultry processing (part 2 of 4)

Conceptually speaking, the evolution of the industrial scalder has been minimal when compared to its ancestor – the boiler used to scald the chickens more...

September 2012

How to improve sliceability of deli meats

Processors spend so much time and energy on product formulations and food safety related to deli meats. Good sliceability is often assumed and can be more...

Managing the control of listeria in a wet processing environment

It is true that "dryer is better" when trying to control Listeria in the RTE environment. When wet operations must exist, they can and must be well-managed more...

Choosing the best packaging for your specific meat cut

With the completion of livestock muscle profiling in the last decade, whole-muscle cuts are increasingly being marketed in the present-day meat industry more...

Maintenance 101: Electric stunners in poultry processing (part 1 of 4)

Except for religious restrictions, broilers must be stunned prior to slaughter and for different reasons: to render birds unconscious and insensitive more...

Increasing consistency and reducing cost with multi-purpose ingredients

Poultry products, both fresh and ready-to eat (RTE), are perishable, and packaging/processing, storage strategies, and/or ingredient technology are commonly more...

Plant Efficiency 101: Capturing methane from bio-waste (part 3 of 3)

Manure is an unavoidable by-product of housing livestock, and it can create problems by emitting methane, odors and carbon dioxide into the air. Biogas more...

August 2012

Plant safety, part 3: Best practices for emergency planning

Lets first establish that an event will occur in your organization, jurisdiction or facility that will require an effective response from all concerned more...

Selecting the right casing for your product

There are several choices to consider for casings, including natural, manufactured collagen, co-extruded collagen and alginate, cellulose, fibrous and more...

Poultry Basics: Obtaining good carcass quality and yield with manual and automatic evisceration

Although a manual line’s performance lay in the hands of its labor force, in automatic lines it depends both on sophisticated equipment and the more...

Plant efficiency 101: Water conservation and recycling (part 2 of 3)

Water used in the plant primarily goes towards meat washing, scalding, waste fuming, cleaning, chilling, sanitizing animal holding areas and disinfecting more...

July 2012

Optimizing meat and poultry product development with ingredient innovations

Product development is usually performed on the bench top by using past experience and supplier information to optimize texture, flavor and appearance more...

Poultry Basics: Scalding and plucking of turkeys for better overall quality

Though seemingly ordinary, scalding and plucking processes are of great importance for their significance for quality, yield and food safety. The process more...

Plant efficiency 101: Better use of energy (part 1 of 3)

Taking measures to reduce energy use by as little as 10 percent can result in as much as $18 billion in savings throughout the manufacturing industry more...

Which phosphate is the best fit for you?

Phosphates are a widely used functional ingredient in meat that are primarily used to limit purge and increase water-holding capacity. In addition, phosphates more...

June 2012

Utilizing fiber as a functional ingredient in further processed meat and poultry

Dietary fibers are complex carbohydrates that are plant-derived, indigestible by humans and either classified as soluble (eg. pectins, gums, non-starch more...

Pre-converted vs. cultured: Which is the best for your natural curing process?

The interest in the indirect curing of meat and poultry products labeled uncured, natural, or organic using vegetable-based sources of nitrate and/or more...

Controlling changes in cooked meat color with packaging

The characteristic dull-brown appearance of cooked meats is due to heat-induced myoglobin denaturation. To minimize the survival of foodborne pathogens more...

May 2012

Evaluating color in meat for QA purposes

Connective tissue can be a challenge in both fresh and processed meat systems, causing challenges to everything from color quality and tenderness to even more...

Pre-slaughter poultry management for high carcass quality and yield

The transfer of market-age broilers from farm to plant is performed through a set of interdependent operations – feed-withdrawal, live catching more...

Improving meat quality by manipulation of connective tissue

From a nutritional standpoint, the muscle proteins in rump steak are every bit as good for us as those in tenderloin. Yet a glance at the latest USDA more...

Managing fat oxidation in cooked meat and poultry products

In meat and poultry processing, it is extremely important to prevent/reduce fat oxidation since this causes quality problems in the finished product. more...

April 2012

How to minimize cross-contamination in drying chambers

Cross-contamination is simply the transference of harmful bacteria or disease-causing microorganisms from one person, object (including food) or place more...

Improving poultry meat texture and yield

The production of boneless, skinless breast is a standard practice in today’s industry. Producing this product efficiently is also important. This more...

Identifying opportunities to reduce environmental impact for beef production

The U.S. beef industry has made remarkable strides in productivity over the past 30 years. A recent study from Washington State University (WSU) demonstrated more...

Complementing your food safety initiatives

In 2003 the American Meat Institute (AMI) developed a “Sanitary Equipment Design Checklist” to aid in the design of equipment that could be more...

March 2012

AMSA Exclusive: How nitrite-containing film stabilizes fresh meat color

Editor's note: This is the second in an occasional series of exclusive articles provided by authors commissioned by the American Meat Science Association more...

Adding value to braised pork products for retail

Over the last decade, pork producers have been looking for ways to add value to lesser and tougher cuts in order to utilize more of the pork carcass and more...

Understanding food labeling for organic, natural and uncured products

The rapid growth of organic, natural and uncured product sectors of the meat and poultry industries over the past several years has resulted in a great more...

Plant safety, part 2: Developing a facility bioterrorism plan

Processors often time think of their own facilities as something no one would want to harm. But is that just complacency talking? Utilize some of the more...

February 2012

AMSA Exclusive: Pickle mixology for better bacon

Editor's note: This is the first in an occasional series of exclusive articles provided by authors commissioned by the American Meat Science Association more...

Plant safety, pt. 1: Behind-the-scenes look at protecting our food supply

With the recent outbreaks of food threats, as well as some of the largest product recalls in recent history, what can emergency managers learn about the more...

From culinary development to large-scale production

Many paths lead to Rome, as the saying goes. The same analogy may be applied to a concept in the creation of a new product from bench top through the more...

Preserving fresh meat appearance with packaging

Since meat color is primarily driven by the pigment myoglobin and the chemical state it is in, processors must develop and maintain pigment forms of expected more...

Preserving fresh meat appearance with ingredients

The color of fresh meat drives consumer perception of quality and freshness – and ultimately drives purchasing decisions. Even small discolorations more...

Successfully incorporating biomapping into a poultry operation

Locating contamination sites in a poultry processing plant can be time consuming and expensive so it must be done in a precise manner. Today there are more...

January 2012

How to reduce drying time in dry/fermented sausage

For centuries, the idea of drying salami in a matter of minutes was considered impossible – and rightly so. It’s a long process that has been more...

Beyond rosemary and celery: Advances in natural/organic curing

The past ten years have brought about a very significant growth in marketing of natural, organic and uncured processed meats – a category of processed more...

Manufacturing high-quality cooked poultry sausages

With appropriate processing techniques and ingredient technology, poultry raw materials can be utilized to produce high-quality sausages such as those more...

How to incorporate nitrates into further processed meat

Although today’s cured meats offer consumers everything from variety to convenience while giving manufacturers improved quality, shelf-life and more...

December 2011

Reducing costs and maintaining quality of least- cost formulation

“It’s easy to make a great batch of sausage; it is difficult to make the same great batch of sausage every day” is a familiar quote more...

Choosing the best antimicrobial for your formulation

“What do I want it to do?” That’s the critical question that needs to be asked when considering an antimicrobial to add to a formulation more...

November 2011

Measuring bacon quality using objective and subjective methods

From fast food restaurants to diners and supermarkets, bacon has become an everyday food item. Evolving beyond its traditional place as a breakfast side more...

October 2011

Composting: An alternative to rendering

U.S. meat processors slaughter more than 150 million head of cattle, hogs, sheep and other livestock per year, according the National Renderers Association more...

Tips for producing uniform clipped products

Both casing and clip need to work together to maintain not only a uniform product diameter but also to prevent damage during the hanging process. No matter more...

September 2011

QC 101: Evaluating color in meat products

There are many reasons to evaluate meat color including evaluating consumer acceptance, determining shelf life and measuring display life. Also, ingredients more...

Effective use of acid marinades

Acidic marinades are commonly used in further-processed products to combat issues with Listeria monocytogenes in fully cooked products. Nearly all Listeria more...

Tips for making high-quality, low-fat pork sausage

A low-fat diet is chosen by many people for various reasons. Even though the low-fat movement is becoming less popular among experts, there is still a more...

Creating tasteful lower-calorie meat products

Calories are a measure of the amount of energy in any substance, including food. Initially, calories were a scientific measure of the ability of a substance more...

August 2011

Decreasing contamination in fresh meat with “friendly” bacteria

In the meat industry, there’s a general negative perception of bacterial contamination – and rightly so in some cases: It raises both food more...

Poultry meat preparation for whole muscle formation

Further processed products make up a large percentage of the market in the poultry industry. Rather than producing whole birds, carcasses are cut up and more...

July 2011

Sustainability 101: Greening up your process

Processing facilities can take several steps toward making their daily operations more sustainable. Employing water conservation strategies and targeting more...

Strategies for maximizing water recycling

The U.S. poultry industry slaughters an estimated 8.8 billion birds per year. Most large processors slaughter 1.25 million birds per week. The poultry more...

Sustainability 101: Identifying opportunities for energy conservation at the plant

The first thing any processor should do before performing a new energy conservation strategy is perform an energy audit. The U.S. Energy Department’s more...

June 2011

Tips for making a safer ham

Ham is one of the most popular processed pork items in production, occupying everything from the center of the plate to sandwiches and salads. Although more...

May 2011

Immersion chilling helps cut campylobacter cases in half

Scientists in New Zealand are reporting that immersion chilling at the end of primary processing helped dramatically cut the number of campylobacteriosis more...

Tips for successful beef carcass grading

A few years ago, a beef processor asked for some help, as management was concerned about their quality grading percentages. This processor had two different more...

Live animal interventions for pathogenic bacteria

A growing body of evidence indicates that, across all production animal species, the status of the live animal has an effect not only on the health of more...

April 2011

Dealing with the new Salmonella performance standards for poultry

Salmonella control in poultry has always been a top priority for USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, and the poultry industry has always more...

Assessing the cross-contamination risk in your plant

When we talk about cross-contamination, most people think of the obvious issue of keeping raw and cooked products separated. This is certainly an important more...

Dealing with new Campylobacter performance standards for poultry

Introduction Campylobacteriosis is the second most-common food borne illness in the United States, second to Salmonellosis. Most of the reported Campylobacteriosis more...

March 2011

Maintaining water immersion chillers

Water immersion is the oldest known poultry chilling method. Immersion chillers are largely accepted and used by poultry companies all over the world more...

Understanding and developing thermal processing schedules

Thermal processing can be considered one of the last “official” steps in the manufacture of processed meat and poultry products.  All more...

Plant Verification 101: Interacting with inspectors before, during and after a study is performed.

First, let’s quickly review the difference between verification and validation.  Verification are those activities that ensure a HACCP or food more...

Bird washer maintenance

The inside-outside bird washer, or simply IOBW, is a helpful tool in the effort to improve the physical and bacteriological quality of chicken carcasses more...

February 2011

Plant Verification 101: Applications of in-plant study results

This is the fourth in a series of articles discussing the design, methods, analysis and application of in-plant research, primarily focused on verification more...

Plant Verification 101: Methodology for collecting microbial growth and other data

This is the third in a series of four articles providing technical and scientific information and opinion on how meat processors can conduct research more...

Frying and filtration systems maintenance

Regardless of the type of oil or frying equipment used in industrial frying systems, a key element in product quality and oil fry life is oil filtration more...

Plant Verification 101: Analyzing data in a statistically appropriate manner

This is the second in a series of four articles providing technical and scientific information and opinion on how meat processors can conduct research more...

Plant Verification 101: Correctly designing a study to provide statistically defensible results

This is the first in a series of four articles providing technical and scientific information and opinion on how meat processors can conduct research more...

January 2011

QC 101: Assessing methods for evaluating texture

Meat texture is a complex physical property of meat products that results from the structure and composition of the product under consideration. Texture more...

Setting the minimum sodium level for maximum yield, minimum cost and best flavor

Researchers and processors have developed many ingredient strategies to aid in the development of processed and marinated meat products with reduced sodium more...

Working with dietary fibers as fillers for emulsified products

Dietary fiber is a popular addition to emulsified meat products, providing several distinct benefits including better moisture retention and fat replacement more...

Stuffer maintenance: Oil in, water out

As the saying goes, two things the public wouldn’t want to see made are laws and sausage. The latter would be even less appealing if meat processors more...

QC 101: Measuring H2O-holding capacity in meat products

The ability of meat to absorb and retain water is a critical property of meat products that has major implications for both consumer acceptance and commercial more...

December 2010

Properly applying carrageenan in breaded and marinated poultry

Commercial carrageenans can be used in further processed poultry products to improve product quality. The three types of carrageenans that are available more...

How ozone, ultraviolet and filtration systems work with surface sanitation to optimize food safety

Equipment, facilities, utensils and even product itself can be a major source of bacterial contamination in a meat processing environment. Ozone, ultraviolet more...

November 2010

Sausage 101: Manufacturing Italian sausages

Traditionally, the varieties of Italian sausages are many-fold: Genoa salami, ciauscolo, mortadella, nduja, coppa and sopressata are fairly common in more...

Obtaining optimal quality in shredded meat products

Shredded meat is a great way to add value to cuts with lower consumer demand. Shredded meats are commonly a “barbecue” item and as such have more...

October 2010

Lowering microbial loads in your rendering operation

According to the National Renderers Association, North American industry renders and recycles about 59 billion pounds of inedible animal by-products annually more...

Meat proteins 101: Improving flavor, color and shelf life with antioxidants

Antioxidants are a valuable ingredient in many meat product formulations. To effectively use antioxidants, it is best if you know what an antioxidant more...

Understanding the effects of tumbling, extrusion, forming and injecting on protein functionality

Meat is composed of water, protein and fat; however, the ability of a processor to make many meat products, such as sausage, boneless hams or formed roast more...

September 2010

Correct application of foam sanitizers

Implementing an effective cleaning and sanitizing program is an essential part of a food safety program. Effective cleaning removes contamination left more...

Adapting coating systems to address health trends

Some consumers are demanding healthier products without wanting to sacrifice flavor and texture. Recent trends and technologies to create healthier breaded more...

August 2010

MAP packaging: Balancing oxygen levels to enhance fresh meat color

The color of fresh meat is a particularly fragile property of meat cuts in retail display and one that is also very important to consumers’ impressions more...

July 2010

Meat proteins 101: Optimizing performance with phosphates

Proteins are biological products designed for a wide variety of functions in living organisms. Because of that, proteins also have a wide variety of properties more...

Managing the control of listeria in a wet processing environment

Steve Tsuyuki (tsuyukst@mapleleaf.ca) of Maple Leaf Consumer Foods and John Weisgerber (jcweisgerber@gmail.com) of Weisgerber Consulting LLC contributed more...

Dealing with PSE meat in poultry deli meat applications

Casey M. Owens, associate professor at the University of Arkansas Center of Excellence for Poultry Science, contributed this piece. The further processing more...

June 2010

Managing relative humidity in a dry processing environment

Meat processing usually occurs in a high-humidity environment due to the large amount of water used during processing, the nature of the processing environment more...

Sausage 101: Basic manufacturing of specialty chorizo

The pace of growth of the Hispanic population in the United States is strongly influencing the food industry, and one result is a larger selection of more...

Strategies for reducing sodium content in marinated poultry products

Sodium chloride and sodium phosphates are commonly used to improve the yields, tenderness and flavor of marinated poultry products. The chloride and phosphate more...

May 2010

Controlling listeria in dried meat snacks

Dried meat snacks have become popular with a broad segment of the population in part due to their flavor, but also because some varieties, such as jerky more...

April 2010

Improving microbial control without chemicals

While thermal pasteurization of liquid foods is well established and satisfactory as a decontamination treatment, it does not suit solid foods such as more...

Improving productivity on the beef cut-up line

Meat processors must control their productivity and yields to remain competitive. Yields are an important indicator to measure efficiency, product quality more...

Improving yield with proper shackling

The act of placing a bird in a shackle may seem like a simple task with little consequence, yet it can affect the bird's grade, its progress through the more...

Applying statistical process control to improve product quality

Statistical process control (SPC) is the application of statistical methods to information obtained from a manufacturing process to ensure the quality more...

March 2010

Sanitizing animal handling areas

There are multiple reasons to keep animal handling areas clean and sanitary. Pathogen reduction is always a good idea, and proper sanitation of animal more...

February 2010

Meat proteins 101: Improving functionality with salt

The ability of meat proteins to perform during processing so that finished products are highly palatable, attractive and cost-effective is often described more...

Reducing trim loss during poultry deboning

Boneless, skinless poultry meat is here to stay. It is quicker and easier to cook than bone-in product, and there is no waste to the consumer. However more...

Improving testing protocols for quality and safety on the ground beef line

Ground beef has been under intense scrutiny for the last two decades. However, even with all of the changes in the raw materials, processing and inspection more...

Applying approved in-plant microbial interventions

The use of antimicrobial chemicals on the poultry eviscerating line is allowed to insure that carcasses accidentally contaminated with digestive tract more...

January 2010

Managing temperatures during beef hot dog manufacturing

For this article, beef hot dogs are assumed to be emulsified, small-diameter, fully cooked sausages produced using either a bowl chopper or an emulsifier more...

December 2009

Harvesting high-quality giblets

Harvesting giblets may seem like a very simple operation but with today's automation, it can be messy. Giblet harvest can be done mechanically or manually more...

Maximizing skinner yield and output

Skinners are essential for high-volume meat fabrication, especially fresh pork processing. Skinner yields and outputs can be affected by several factors more...

Optimal chiller operation for microbial control

The importance of proper chiller operation cannot be overstated. Many studies confirm that a well operated chiller significantly reduces Salmonella prevalence more...

November 2009

Leveraging non-meat proteins to enhance product texture and water binding

Non-meat proteins are commonly used in the fabrication of meat products. These proteins have specific characteristics and functionality, but generally more...

October 2009

Optimizing breading systems for adhesion and pickup

Further processing of poultry products has grown drastically over the past several decades. It now represents the largest segment of marketed poultry more...

Tips to effectively defrost raw materials for further processing

A good percentage of the meat used for further processing comes into plants as frozen blocks. Much of the quality of this meat is affected by the way more...

September 2009

Raw materials for formed products: a QC checklist

Formed products provide alternative marketing options for processors that are grinding and are the primary business for many meat companies. Whether formed more...

Bone detection and microbial count: a QC checklist for raw poultry trim

When either producing or purchasing raw poultry meat for production of further processed products, it is critical that all of the factors which could more...

Optimizing product uniformity when cooking with continuous ovens

Continuous ovens are an efficient method of cooking many meat products, but do not allow for easy "on the fly" adjustments to account for differences more...

Tips for cutting perfect cubes of precooked meats

The first cut may not always be the deepest, but it can cut a wide swath through a processing line if it isn't properly executed. In the case of precooked more...

July 2009

Controlling fat quality and composition to enhance emulsion stability

Many factors influence emulsion stability in a meat batter. However, fat and how it is handled play a major role in obtaining a stable meat emulsion. more...

Manufacturing dry-cured ham

Dry-cured hams come in many varieties whose origins span the globe, and although most of them are made using the same basic procedures, each type and more...

June 2009

Controlling temperature to ensure safer injected products

Temperature control is among the most important tools ensuring the safety and shelf life of many meat products. Any physical action or handling of product more...

Processing high-quality poultry hot dogs

Poultry is a common ingredient of the American hot dog, so it was only a matter of time before processors began marketing poultry franks as alternatives more...

May 2009

Matching the right sanitizer to the job

Meat and poultry processors are faced with the questions, "What sanitizer should I use for my operations? Which is the right one?" There is no right or more...

Ensuring quality in mechanically deboned poultry meat

Mechanically separated poultry meat provides a mechanism to harvest poultry meat for use in sausages, hot dogs, deli meats, soup mixes and other products more...

Manufacturing restructured meat products

As the market continues to get more competitive and consumer and foodservice operations demand easy-to-prepare, consistent, higher-quality, flavorful more...

April 2009

Selecting a contract laboratory for microbial testing

The decision to use a particular laboratory for testing can be critical when you are feeding the public. Ensuring you get valid and reproducible results more...

Preventative steps to curb Listeria in processed poultry

Listeria monocytogenes is one of the few pathogens found in food that can multiply under refrigeration. It is more resistant to freezing, drying, high more...

Three tips for creating more stable meat emulsions

An emulsion is a colloidal suspension of two immiscible liquids, such as oil and water. Usually, a non-polar liquid is dispersed within a polar liquid more...

Leveraging poultry proteins to enhance product quality

Protein ingredients play a key roll in the fabrication of further processed poultry products. In recent years, research has yielded new protein ingredients more...

March 2009

Tips to improve speed and uniformity in non-emulsion stuffing

Producing a high-quality whole-muscle product begins with high-quality raw materials. Good meat, a good formulation, adequate temperatures at each step more...

Developing a chilling protocol for cooked meats

The past 20 years or so have brought immense changes in the concepts and procedures used to improve the safety of cooked, ready-to-eat meat and poultry more...

Using collagen to improve ham texture and yields

Until recent years, collagen was considered a protein of low value. Processed products made from meat with a lot of connective tissue — the main more...

February 2009

Using pre-rigor meat to improve sausage yield and texture

One of the most fragile and variable properties of meat as a raw material for sausage products is the ability of meat to bind and retain water during more...

Manufacturing semi-dry fermented sausages

Dry and semi-dry sausages are not the same. Each requires different raw materials and ingredients, and different steps during its manufacturing. This more...

January 2009

Three critical steps to maximize sliced bacon yield

Since U.S. regulations state that cooked bacon yields are not to be greater than 1 percent above raw weight, bacon processing must be carefully controlled more...

December 2008

Maximum coverage for rubs

Flavor. An appealing roast-brown appearance. Moisture retention, binding and tenderness. Meat processors use dry rub applications for the number of ways more...

Determining ideal injection levels for fresh pork

Injection — also referred to as enhancement or pumping — is a common process for much fresh pork. Injection of fresh pork has been shown to more...

Assessing the value of retort packaging for meat and poultry products

Retort is a process that uses heat and pressure to cook and sterilize food in a strong, sealed package. Retort packaging, then, refers to a flexible container more...

How, when and why to rotate sanitizers

Whatever one may think of the effectiveness of HACCP, it is useless in a meat plant without sanitizers and an effective sanitation plan. So say Catherine more...

October 2008

How, when and why to update SSOPs

A Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures document (SSOP) contains written procedures that an establishment must develop and implement to prevent product more...

How and when to properly sanitize coolers

Bacteria require, nutrients, moisture and proper environment to grow and reproduce. Unfortunately, all of these conditions are met in the average poultry more...

September 2008

Live handling: 5 critical points that affect product quality

In nearly every poultry processing plant there is a quality control person or program. The duties include taking samples and collecting data to measure more...

Managing QA/QC on the deli line

Deli meats can provide many quality assurance challenges because they incorporate all facets of meat processing — raw materials, formulation, processing more...

August 2008

Preventing biofilms in cold storage areas

A biofilm essentially is a cocktail of microorganisms that forms on food-contact surfaces. Typically spiked with the likes of Listeria monocytogenes and more...

July 2008

Meeting animal handling standards for cattle

In March 2008, USDA reissued instructions to its Public Health Veterinarians (PHVs) on conducting and documenting humane handling activities at federally more...

Creating low pH environments to inhibit microbial growth in fresh meats

Marination of fresh meat, particularly pork products, has become an increasingly common means of merchandising conventional cuts with new flavors, better more...

Sausage manufacturing basics

The sausage category involves a wide variety of products, but this article will focus on emulsion-type sausages. These are generally made of a mixture more...

Managing poultry hanging for yield

The process of getting birds from the cage to the stunner is rarely considered a serious potential source yield loss, but this area can actually have more...

June 2008

Live hog handling and its effect on product quality

One of the most important — and often overlooked — considerations of meat quality is the "quality" of the live animal being slaughtered. Without more...

Using your stuffing machine for portion control

Stuffing machines have been used for many years in the meat industry. There are two common types of stuffing equipment used currently: vane-type stuffers more...

May 2008

Determining ideal injection levels for fresh beef products

"Injection," "marination" and "enhancement" are terms often tossed around rather loosely when discussing the addition of various ingredients to intact more...

Avoiding cross-contamination during injection

Even when processors clean and disinfect processing equipment and machinery daily, cross-contamination can still happen if the surface of the meat harbors more...

Precision cutting to maximize steak yield

When cutting subprimals into steaks, yields mean profit. The title of this article refers to "precision cutting" so let's first define precision — more...

April 2008

Maintaining proper temperature, pH and filtration in the scalder for food safety

For years, poultry companies have known that they can significantly improve finished whole-ready-to-cook WOG yield by lowering scalder temperatures. However more...

Setting (and maintaining) safety standards with raw materials suppliers

The HACCP system has become known as a tool to evaluate hazards from "the farm to the fork." The only way to guarantee the safety of food is to consider more...

March 2008

Producing emulsified products without fat pockets

The most abundant proteins in muscle fibers, actin and myosin, are insoluble in water, but can be solubilized through physical action in solutions containing more...

Modulating fryer oil temperatures for specific product types

If an oil's frying temperature doesn't conform to specs, myriad problems can occur. Oil transfers thermal energy from the fryer's heating unit to the more...

Keeping packaging areas pathogen-free

Most ready-to-eat products are consumed right out of the package, with little or no cooking involved. During processing, RTE products receive a lethality more...

Working with clean-in-place systems

Clean-in-place systems are powerful sanitation tools that can be used to easily and thoroughly clean facilities and equipment. CIP systems are most commonly more...

February 2008

Optimizing water quality for meat and poultry processing

Water is a major component of every meat and poultry plant. While the quantity of water needed for washing and cleaning is copious — poultry processors more...

Testing poultry boning yield

There is no perfect method for taking raw poultry meat off of the bone. As a result, there is always loss of some tissue that could have been sold for more...

January 2008

Managing QA/QC on the sausage line

More and more sausage makers are looking to introduce process controls to activities ranging from stuffing and linking to hanging and packaging, the goal more...

Picking finger selection and maintenance

While the feather-removal process in the United States is called "picking," the feathers are not actually picked. Instead, they are rubbed off of the more...

December 2007

Controlling temperature variations in whole-muscle meats

Whole muscle cuts such as hams and beef roasts can be challenging to cook properly, especially if a lower cooked temperature is desired. Final cooking more...

Ensuring optimal distribution of marinades and brines

Injected, marinated meat products are among the highest-margin products in the meat industry, but uneven distribution of marinades and brines can result more...

November 2007

Developing test-and-hold protocols

Holding raw materials and finished product to test for specific pathogens such as E. coli O157 has become a standard operating procedure for many meat more...

Is your E. coli program sufficient to prevent salmonella?

Although it is confronting one of the worst spikes in E. coli-related outbreaks in years, the U.S. beef industry is no stranger to illness resulting from more...

October 2007

Sanitation tips that save water

While filtering and reusing sanitation water remain the primary means of conserving water in processing plants, there are other in-plant strategies and more...

Listeria busters: Antimicrobials for ready-to-eat meats

USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service has had its eye on further processed meats for some time, its latest initiative seeking to deploy inspection more...

September 2007

How to handle material rework

A recent study by researchers from Cardiff University in Wales found that at some point in the supply chain, 67 percent of meat product required rework more...

Regulating temperature and humidity for food safety in dry and semi-dry sausages

Dry and semi-dry sausages mark the pinnacle of sausage making, but regulatory and food safety concerns have limited production to specialty shops. Providing more...

August 2007

Essential elements of effective carcass stimulation

Electrical stimulation of beef carcasses has been shown to improve beef carcass quality, in the areas of both appearance and tenderness. The reason? Carcasses more...

The ABCs of automated evisceration

Evisceration has changed dramatically over the last 30 years, but the problems associated with the process have changed very little. Along with dramatic more...

July 2007

Leveraging chemical interventions to fight meat and poultry pathogens

Chemical interventions aim to inhibit or eliminate microorganisms by altering a meat's surface pH with organic products. The main disadvantage of any more...

Freezing with NH3: Safety and maintenance basics

Since ammonia, which most commonly fuels refrigeration systems in the United States, moves heat more efficiently than other refrigeration gases, especially more...

Temperature, ingredient and handling tips to ensure better ground pork products

Guidelines for handling and processing different meats generally are very similar, yet pork features unique characteristics processors need to keep in more...

June 2007

Integrating your traceability system up- and downstream

Traceability isn't the law — at least not yet — but it's a rule of thumb for a growing number of retail and foodservice chains. So, what should more...

Command and control: Tips for organizing your sanitation teams

With food safety an increasing concern in the meat industry, sanitation management is more important than ever. The catch is, sanitation sometimes is more...

May 2007

Precision portioning for meat snacks

Dried meat snacks, whether whole-muscle or so-called comminuted meat products, require careful attention to portion control, since the removal of moisture more...

Guidelines for developing a level 1, 2 or 3 listeria control program

Determining the appropriate level of listeria control as defined by USDA is difficult. It calls for evaluating your operations in terms of your process more...

April 2007

Maintaining flavor and texture without nitrates or nitrites

With the growth of the natural/organic market, there is growing interest in alternatives to nitrates and nitrites for processed meat products. Although more...

Keep it kosher: A processing checklist

Kosher processing is a time- and labor-intensive endeavor with very specific demands. Even without consideration of kosher slaughter requirements, the more...

March 2007

Tips for better logistics control

With retail and foodservice operations becoming increasingly vigilant about food-borne pathogens and allergens, processors often are required to prove more...

Improving QC inspection of raw material

The handling of raw materials has always been an important factor in the production of high-quality products. Recently, the standard use of letters of more...

February 2007

Keep it clean: Tips for maintaining your deli slicer

Deli slicers that aren't regularly cleaned and maintained can lead to uneven product, poor yields and food-safety problems. Accordingly, processors must more...

Ensuring fresh taste in cooked beef

Because of their profit potential, fully cooked beef product is becoming a staple in retail meat departments. Processing these products is not without more...

January 2007

White glove inspection: Avoiding sanitizer and disinfectant residues

Plant sanitation is an ongoing process that can lead to the build-up of harmful chemicals if residue is allowed to remain. In fact, ensuring that residues more...

Tips to improve flavor/texture of whole-muscle ham

As with other meats, the quality of whole-muscle hams is largely defined by flavor and texture. Premium ham, for instance, often is characterized by more more...

December 2006

Allergen alert: Strategies for avoiding cross-contamination in meat processing

When consumers think of food recalls, pathogens on the order of E. coli and salmonella usually come to mind. But most processors know that lower-profile more...

November 2006

Is gas stunning hogs the way to go?

Electrical stunning, which renders pigs, chickens and other animals insensible before they are slaughtered, has been in use for a century. However, gas more...

October 2006

Keep it clean: Tips to keep microbes out of your brines

Brining meat — particularly hams, sausages, franks and bacon — requires the encouragement of good microbes, which improve color, flavor and more...

September 2006

Weigh to go: Quick tricks to optimize your checkweigher's performance

Checkweighers are high-tech, rugged machines, but like all equipment, they are subject to failure. Your checkweigher was perfectly calibrated when it more...

August 2006

Into the frying pan: Tips to save oil while frying

If you consider that a 1,200-gallon fryer requires about a quarter of a million gallons of oil per year to operate, it becomes pretty clear pretty quickly more...

June 2006

Critter control: Design strategies to keep pests outside and away from your line

Inspectors — and meat processors — hate flies and cockroaches so much that so much as a single insect has been known to grind production lines more...

May 2006

Total cleaning confidence: Training the troops for the sanitation shift

The best conceived Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOP) are of little value if the employees actually performing the work don't have the information more...

Hide-pulling: Killing contamination at slaughter's critical crossroads

It has been well documented that the hide is the major source of pathogen contamination in beef slaughter plants. Any activity involving the opening and more...

April 2006

Ergonomics: A common sense approach to a healthier workforce

OSHA's ergonomic standard may have collapsed under its own weight, and injury rates in meat plants may have subsided somewhat, but ergonomic injuries more...

Group, interleave, stack! An updated guide to running your patty line

As processors move to more complex and uniquely formed patties, including "low-pressure" product that looks handmade (See Tech Connection in the April more...

March 2006

Haste makes waste: Precision cutting techniques for the Flat Iron and other value cuts

Here's a question: What is the second-most tender muscle in the beef carcass? Answer: the infraspinatus, which also is used to process the Flat Iron steak more...

February 2006

Drain traps: Three practical tips to avoid biofilms

Biofilms are insidious mixtures of bacteria, proteins and other biological materials that typically form on the surfaces of food processing equipment more...

January 2006

The three deadly sins of carcass chilling

Sour rounds, heat rings, and pale watery muscles are all the result of improper carcass chilling, although the primary purpose of chilling is to slow more...

November 2005

Three critical steps to prevent poultry product contamination

Further processing is the fastest growing segment of the poultry industry, but once a bird leaves the first processing area of the plant, a unique set more...