Troubleshooting

October 2014

The limitation of sodium reduction systems

Although sodium reduction efforts are not as focused as they have been in recent years, strong interest still remains regarding what methods and technologies more...

September 2014

What processors need to do to improve food security

Defined as ensuring the availability of nutritious and wholesome food for all people, food security has become an essential consideration for USDA and more...

August 2014

How to reduce food safety risk of blade-tenderized fresh meat

Blade tenderizing of meat and poultry products has been a common industry practice for many decades. By 1975, it was estimated that more than 90 percent more...

July 2014

How to use vertically integrated research to solve quality problems

This article addresses three current issues in the meat industry and how integrated research can be used to solve these problems. One of the greatest more...

June 2014

Poultry Basics: Water use challenges in automatic evisceration

Water is a vital resource for the whole poultry industry, playing a significant role from farm to plant. At the producer level, it is responsible for more...

May 2014

Sodium reduction challenges and opportunities

Sodium reduction, regardless of opinion, is a phenomenon that has taken a strong hold in the meat and poultry industry. Although the concern of what “excessive” more...

April 2014

Fighting condensation in the processing plant

If you are planning a new plant, in the middle of a retrofit at your packaging area, adding a new cooking or new cooling / freezing line, or looking towards more...

March 2014

How to reduce food waste with packaging

Up to 40 percent of the food produced is never consumed. Furthermore, the greatest source of this food waste is the consumer. Attention is now being given more...

December 2013

New approaches to grinding and mixing for emulsified products

Emulsified meat products such as frankfurters and bologna make up a very unique category of processed meats because of the processing technology that more...

November 2013

Intercollegiate meat judging provides valuable skill sets for the industry

Meat judging programs are currently the most effective tool for the recruitment and development of future meat science technologists in existence today more...

October 2013

AMSA Exclusive: Sausage Casings

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...

September 2013

AMSA Exclusive: Manufacturing Processes: Hams

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...

August 2013

Controlling moisture pick-up in the chilling tank

In the animal protein industry, the carcasses further intended for human consumption must be cooled as soon as possible after evisceration. The temperature more...

July 2013

How to create new formulations to meet school nutrition requirements

A good lunch is critical to students’ ability to focus and learn in school. It also helps set the stage for a lifetime of healthy eating. With new more...

June 2013

Strategies to help lengthen shelf life of fresh meat products

The shelf life of fresh meat is affected by four factors: the initial bacterial population on the meat, temperature, time and atmosphere. When looking more...

Microorganisms that spoil meat: A review

Microorganisms can be considered both our friends and our foes. But, since they are everywhere, in the environment, in food and even within our bodies more...

May 2013

How to efficiently increase quality of cattle

The primary purpose of producing beef cattle is to convert grass, forages and various by-products -- plus human-edible protein and energy -- into highly more...

April 2013

Understanding the relationship between proteins and water in processed meats

If meat processors were required to label their products according to true composition, and not by ‘added ingredients,’ the first ingredient more...

January 2013

Accommodating sustainability and shelf life with packaging

Packaging’s role in enhancing sustainability of packaged products is especially significant for the protein supply chain. This is due to the importance more...

November 2012

Better use of PSE meat in poultry deli meat products

Poultry deli meats are very popular in the U.S. These are premium products in the marketplace and lend themselves well to appetizers, salads, snacks and more...

October 2012

Preventing visual defects in cooked sausage products

Visual defects found in cooked sausage products can originate from a number of sources – some which can be prevented easily while others can be more...

Worker Safety 101: Solving engineering hazards (part 3 of 3)

Ergonomics is about the science of fitting workplace conditions and job demands to the capabilities of the working population. There are two primary methods more...

Avoiding E. coli contamination in injected and needle-tenderized cuts

Although there are fewer food safety concerns on whole muscle cuts and whole muscle products compared to ground meat products when they are either mechanically more...

September 2012

How to control Listeria and Clostridium in naturally cured products

As “naturally cured”, (a.k.a. “indirectly cured”, “uncured”) processed meat products continue to maintain a strong more...

August 2012

Combatting biofilms formation

In food processing and manufacturing, a biofilm is a conglomerate of microorganisms that along with some organic and inorganic materials form a slimy more...

July 2012

Addressing risk factors for Salmonella through the chiller

In January 1998, the United States red meat and poultry industry changed forever the manner in which inspection was conducted during processing. The implementation more...

June 2012

Worker Safety 101: Preventing accidents during wet sanitation (part 2 of 3)

Exposure to live electricity can be fatal at less than 100 milliamps, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health. As a reference more...

Minimizing cooked meat color changes with antioxidants

At the point-of-consumption, consumers rely on the color of cooked meat as an indicator of doneness. Brown interiors are often considered as safe, whereas more...

Advances in carcass washing at the small plant level

Many smaller processors often feel overwhelmed by the idea of adding a chemical intervention to their slaughter process. Whatever the concern, adding more...

April 2012

Avoiding dimensional changes in cooked beef patties

Cooked beef patties will often change in dimension (size, shape, thickness) during the cooking process. A variety of factors contributes to the shape more...

How to prevent an allergen-related recall (Pt. 2)

In recent months, the USDA has stressed that recalls for undeclared allergens are one of the most frequent and fastest-growing areas of product recalls more...

Pathogens 101: Reducing the incidence of Salmonella in poultry

Editor’s note: This is the fifth and final article in a five-part series analyzing the most prevalent pathogen-food combinations in the United States more...

How to prevent an allergen-related recall (Pt. 1)

In recent months, the USDA has stressed that recalls for undeclared allergens are one of the most frequent and fastest-growing areas of product recalls more...

Pathogens 101: Minimizing Listeria growth in deli meats

Editor’s note: This is the fourth article in a five-part series analyzing the most prevalent pathogen-food combinations in the United States. Using more...

March 2012

Worker Safety 101: Ergonomics to minimize injuries (part 1 of 3)

OSHA defines ergonomics as “the science of fitting workplace conditions and job demands to the capabilities of the working population.” Although more...

How to control yield loss in second processing

Yield is important to processors because small changes can have a significant impact to the economics of processing. Processors strive to maximize yield more...

Pathogens 101: Controlling Toxoplasma in beef

Editor’s note: This the third article in a five-part series analyzing the most prevalent pathogen-food combinations in the United States. Using more...

Solutions to yield challenges in further-processed poultry

Ingredient use, raw material availability, and environmental factors may pose challenges when making further processed poultry products. But there are more...

February 2012

How to reformulate for low sodium and fat in cooked sausages

Reducing sodium and fat in product formulations leads to potential quality and yield challenges that are best addressed through ingredient and processing more...

Pathogens 101: Controlling Toxoplasma in pork

Editor’s note: This the second article in a five-part series analyzing the most prevalent pathogen-food combinations in the United States. Using more...

January 2012

Advances on interventions for further processing of beef

The need to control bacteria on the surface of fresh meat is becoming increasingly important – particularly in light of recent events that have more...

Pathogens 101: Reducing the incidence of Campylobacter in poultry

Editor’s note: This the first article in a five-part series analyzing the most prevalent pathogen-food combinations in the United States. Using more...

December 2011

Overcoming the challenges of dicing raw and cooked poultry

As consumers increasingly demand versatility and variety of poultry meat, processors are increasing the amount of further processed products. One such more...

Dealing with pork fat quality during sausage production

Pork fat quality – the firmness and oxidative stability of the fat itself – can have a significant effect on the quality of the finished products more...

Combating hard water in processing plants

An absolutely essential – yet often overlooked – component of every operation, water is used for cleaning of equipment, utensils, tables, more...

November 2011

Sausage fermentation gone wrong

Sausage fermentation has been utilized for centuries as an effective preservation practice for dry and semi-dry sausages. Relying on the lactic acid bacteria more...

Challenges of working in a wet processing environment

Processing environments are cold and wet – it’s the nature of the process. However, this type of environment can lead to issues in product more...

October 2011

Overcoming the challenges of poultry carcass grading

The current U.S. poultry industry market segments include whole birds (with or without giblets), parts and further processed products. The value of production more...

Challenges of developing raw ready-to-cook products

Refrigerated ready-to-cook (RTC) meals are fresh, never frozen and are cooked in the package by consumers using a microwave oven. They appeal to more...

September 2011

Creative ways of reducing sodium while maintaining flavor

Lowering sodium is a popular trend for meat processors to make. Government influence has recently caused many food processors to consider methods to lower more...

Marination: One method doesn’t fit all

Boneless broiler breast meat is a staple product in the poultry meat market for use in retail, further processing, and foodservice. More recently, a greater more...

July 2011

Common quality defects in deli-sliced products

Further-processed products have increased in the poultry industry in the last few years. Consumers are demanding more products with convenience, versatility more...

June 2011

Overcoming the challenges of producing an organic ham

Consumer interest in organic foods continues to grow because more and more consumers wish to avoid pesticides, antibiotics and other chemicals often used more...

Overcoming challenges of BBQ-ing and grilling at the plant level

Barbecue and grilled flavors are popular with American consumers and there is great potential for increasing production and sales of “precooked” more...

Addressing the food safety challenges in ground poultry products

Ground poultry products, both chicken and turkey, have enjoyed rising popularity as consumers perceive them to be leaner and perhaps more healthful alternatives more...

Researchers find new virus strain in finisher pigs

Ohio State University researchers have found a new porcine calicivirus – similar to the St-Valerien swine virus – in nearly 24 percent of more...

May 2011

Reducing pork carcass defects during processing

Genetics set the level of pork quality. Everything else you do can screw it up, says David Meisinger, executive director of the U.S. Pork Center of Excellence more...

Troubleshooting picking problems

Removing the feathers from chicken carcasses before selling is mandatory in most countries, and the equipment used for this purpose in a commercial operation more...

Reducing poultry carcass defects during processing

Broilers are carefully cared for during the grow-out period to ensure the full expression of their genetic potential, producing meaty, plump, defect-free more...

Testing for Listeria: Spots you don’t want to miss

Listeria is an environmental bacterium that can turn up in almost any location. A saying in the ready-to-eat meat business goes, “If you can’t more...

February 2011

Overcoming the challenges of working with dark meat

Poultry meat consumers in the United States tend to choose breast meat over dark meat for various reasons. This preference has led to an excess of dark more...

January 2011

Optimizing sausage processing for food safety: A paradox

Somehow the words “curing” or “cured” have become bad words in the vocabulary of the consuming public. The idea that a meat processor more...

December 2010

Improving quality and yields in the pork carcasses

U.S. hog processors could learn from their counterparts in southeast Mexico. There, they remove the skin and associated fats before chilling, saving time more...

Accounting for unexplained yield loss in second processing

In poultry processing, unexplained yield loss can happen at many stages. Second processing in poultry begins at the exit of the chiller and can include more...

November 2010

Overcoming the processing challenges of all-natural sausage manufacturing

Natural foods have enjoyed dramatic growth in consumer interest and market sales since the early 1990s. Sales increases of more than 20 percent per year more...

Accounting for unexplained yield loss in evisceration

Not a day goes by in any poultry processing plant without some discussion of "yield." Since it reflects the potential profitability of the operation, more...

October 2010

Adjusting water quality to improve ham quality and yield

Water is one of the most widely used nonmeat ingredients in processed meats, and yet water is the ingredient that is most often overlooked when considering more...

Avoiding texture and flavor problems in ham products

As with most things in life, it is always important to sit back and review the basics from time to time. With a 1-year-old at home (and two more on the more...

September 2010

Limiting contamination with ozone technology

Ozone is a unique sanitizing agent that is generated by splitting oxygen—which normally exists as dioxygen (O2) molecules—into single oxygen more...

August 2010

Preventing visual defects in sausage production

Consumers make purchasing decisions with their eyes. A product’s visual quality is the first thing that must pass muster in the retail setting. more...

May 2010

Minimizing color changes in ground beef

Preference for bright red color is an important factor in prompting a consumer to purchase a package of ground beef. Consumers equate bright red color more...

Live poultry: Optimizing meat color with feed formulations

Color is perhaps the most influential of all organoleptic senses consumers use to make decisions. Most consumers perceive color as a sign of product quality more...

Using bacteriophages to limit contamination in all-natural meat products

Bacteriophages have become one of the newest weapons for food processors to use in the war against foodborne bacteria that cause human illnesses. The more...

Avoiding shape and form changes in cooked hamburger patties

Hamburger patties are notorious for changing shape and form during cooking. A variety of factors contribute to the shape change of hamburger patties, more...

April 2010

Managing product loading and handling to improve smokehouse productivity

With demand soaring for bacon, sausage and smoked meats of all kinds, large and small plants have seen an opportunity to push more product through the more...

March 2010

Three steps to improve productivity in your slicing operation

Production facilities measure success based on the amount of high-quality products that are sold to commerce. For slicing facilities, superior meat quality more...

Using DFD meat to make beef hot dogs

Dark, firm and dry (DFD) meat can be the result of prolonged stress in animals prior to slaughter, either because the animals have been underfed, or they more...

February 2010

Increasing protein extraction to obtain better-emulsified products

Meat emulsions, or meat batters, the best examples of which are frankfurters and large-diameter bologna, are complex mixtures made up of very fine fat more...

January 2010

Three reasons why your low-sodium formulations are not performing — and what to do about it

Salt is the key ingredient in most processed meat formulations. However, low-sodium products are an important and growing market segment.  USDA allows more...

Avoiding color problems in cured products

It has been documented many times that the visual appearance of meat products in retail display is one of the most critical factors that consumers use more...

December 2009

Ensuring your in-line fat analyzer is working correctly

A properly working fat analyzer is essential for formulation, labeling and yield of meat products. In-line analyzers can increase profitability by quickly more...

Avoiding pre-slaughter problems that impact meat quality

Pre-slaughter stress is an important contributor to meat quality. Animals get stressed at different times, from the farm all the way to unloading, resting more...

November 2009

Microbial intervention during evisceration

Typically microbial intervention is considered a step just before or after chilling poultry carcasses. While these procedures have proven effective in more...

August 2009

Improving restructured product with fresh meat binding systems

Fresh meat binding involves not only assembling trimmings, binding them and selling them as a restructured product. Fresh meat binding's potential goes more...

Controlling E. coli and other pathogens in injected and needle-tenderized cuts

In general, whole-muscle cuts pose less risk for causing food-borne illness than ground products because bacteria on the surface of whole-muscle cuts more...

May 2009

Managing cooking temperature and cooking treatments to avoid carcinogen formation

A great deal of publicity over the past 30 years or so has focused on the potential for forming carcinogens in cooked meats. Concerns about carcinogens more...

March 2009

Overcoming common quality defects in deli slices

Quality defects in deli meat slices can result from any number of variables, including how product is prepared, cooked, chilled, loaded and sliced. Accordingly more...

February 2009

Improving dry sausage quality by controlling temperature and humidity

The manufacture of dry sausage is probably the oldest form of meat preservation. Dry sausage was undoubtedly discovered by accident and gradually evolved more...

January 2009

PSE in poultry: Why it happens and what to do about it

Pale, soft, and exudative (PSE) is a quality defect that exists in some broiler and turkey breast meat. This condition was identified as a problem in more...

December 2008

In the chiller: Optimizing chlorine effectiveness with pH

Chlorine has long been used as a disinfectant in poultry chillers. However, controlling the level is often misunderstood by those using it. For chlorine more...

Pest control strategies for poultry plants

Pest control in food processing is essential, but difficult and expensive. It presents some unique challenges, not the least of which is that the practice more...

November 2008

Retarding denaturation of frozen meat product

Freezing is one of the most effective methods used for preserving meat, and it can substantially increase its shelf life. However, freezing can also cause more...

October 2008

Avoiding processing defects in ham

Today, more consumers are demanding high-quality ham products that are thin-sliced in an attractive modified atmosphere package (MAP) at the retail level more...

How crust freezing can ease slicing operations

Two words for deli meat processors looking to improve the quality, yield and efficiency of their slicing operations: crust freezing. The procedure calls more...

Growout interventions for salmonella control in poultry

There is no silver bullet for Salmonella control. In fact, the only proven method involves intervention steps throughout the system. Focus is frequently more...

September 2008

Mapping food safety ‘hot spots’ throughout poultry processing

Biomapping has become the "hot topic" method of locating potential food safety threats in poultry processing. Microbiological samples are taken at each more...

Avoiding taste and flavor degradation when using food-grade antimicrobials

In recent years a number of antimicrobials have been developed with the goal of inhibiting or killing pathogenic and spoilage bacteria. These compounds more...

August 2008

Preventing biofilms on processing and packaging equipment

Biofilms are communities of microorganisms that attach to surfaces and colonize given favorable conditions such as the presence of moisture and nutrients more...

July 2008

Avoiding giveaway during sausage production

Tight margins and increasing input costs demand an even sharper focus on optimizing production yields during sausage manufacturing. Product "giveaway more...

June 2008

Tips to avoid warmed-over flavor in precooked meat and poultry

Oxidative deterioration of fat in meat can take place before and after cooking, and it can be caused by many different factors including exposure to light more...

Loaders: Avoiding slicing inconsistencies and product giveaway

Yields drive profitability, and a frustrating place to lose yields is during slicing and packaging. Loading product to maximize slice yields may seem more...

Tips to prevent common product defects in sausage

The obvious reason to avoid product defects is the desire to meet consumer expectations. However, product defects also affect process yields. The most more...

April 2008

Solutions to common shrink-wrap problems

Now that shrink film no longer is simply used to bind and protect product during distribution, but also to display it once it arrives at its intended more...

Dealing with persistent pink in ground beef

"Persistent pinking" — a pink color that remains in uncured, cooked meat products even after cooking at relatively high temperatures — is more...

March 2008

Preventing lipid oxidation of precooked meat

The advantages of precooked meats are clear, just as it's clear that "warmed over flavor" (WOF) isn't one of them. The product may look like meat, but more...

February 2008

Eliminating 'product effect' and other errors in metal detection

As efficient as they are, metal detectors can be prone to misreadings if not carefully calibrated, or if operators deviate from basic principles of installation more...

January 2008

Avoiding packaging sealing failures

Packaging materials for meat and meat products offer a wide range of properties for specific applications, but one of their most important characteristics more...

Avoiding separation of meat and fat in bacon

Fat separation and pickle pockets are manufacturing defects that have a direct impact on the appearance of bacon. Slice integrity is a very important more...

December 2007

Handling tips to avoid porcine stress syndrome

Porcine stress syndrome is associated with a specific genetic condition, and is also known as the stress gene, the halothane gene or malignant hypothermia more...

November 2007

How to effectively evaluate beef and pork trim meat

Trimmings from beef and pork are among the most widely used raw meat ingredients. The quality and handling of trimmings affects final product quality more...

One size fits all: Ensuring uniform beef patties

Uniformity in burger production is vital to ensure an attractive product, as well as to prevent giveaway and consequent margin erosion. Producing the more...

October 2007

Enhancing food safety with infrared pasteurization

Post-processing contamination of ready-to-eat meat and poultry products with listeria monocytogenes is a major concern for the food industry. After cooking more...

Calculating and controlling cooling deviations in cooked meats

Strange as it may seem, treatments that kill certain pathogenic bacteria in cooked foods can create ideal conditions for spawning others, notably Clostridium more...

Precision loading for precision slicers

High-speed, precision slicing can go wrong in many ways. If the blade isn't kept honed, or the shear bar is too loose, for instance, slices will likely more...

September 2007

Practical steps to avoid contamination during manual poultry evisceration

For plants where line speed does not justify the investment in an automatic evisceration operation or where the cost and availability of labor still are more...

Pre-blending to ensure sausage product consistency

Pre-blending has become an important tool to improve the yield and consistency of sausage. First, to avoid confusion, let's define pre-blending as the more...

August 2007

Effective measures to prevent cold shortening

Cold shortening — or muscle shortening — is a process that occurs as meat chills, immediately after slaughter. Fact is, all species undergo more...

July 2007

Controlling condensation in poultry plants

Condensation is one of the most vexing problems in the poultry industry today. The need to refrigerate areas within the plant to minimize bacterial growth more...

Microbes be gone! Taking advantage of next-generation cleaners and sanitizers

Cleaning and sanitizing equipment and food-contact surfaces are the two most important activities of a meat processor's quality-assurance program. No more...

June 2007

In the bag: Cooking with dry flavors

The term "value-added" typically is associated with retail foods, either to denote quality, convenience or both. These days, foodservice providers also more...

Enhancing low-fat, low-sodium formulas for better flavor and quality

Demand for low-fat and low-sodium products is growing, and likely will continue to do so as an aging population grows more interested in "healthy" foods more...

May 2007

Preventing uneven drying of meat snacks

It is not uncommon to see batches of jerky or other meat snacks that have substantially different moisture levels despite having undergone similar processing more...

April 2007

How to keep antimicrobials from changing your meat color

Nitrates and nitrites were first added to meat to preserve it, as they inhibit bacterial growth. However, no cured ham today would appear authentic without more...

Improving peelability of skinless frankfurters

The term "skinless frankfurter" is really something of a misnomer. It simply describes a sausage product that has been stripped of its casing once a secondary more...

Frying chicken: Maximizing cooking oil performance

Cooking oil is a major expense for any frying operation. As the zero-trans-fat movement continues and new oils are used, which are often more expensive more...

March 2007

Three reasons why your cooked ground beef won't bind

Trying to manufacture a cooked ground beef product with good binding properties can be difficult, since the natural tendency is for meat particles to more...

Managing poultry feed withdrawal for food safety

As regulatory agencies and public interest groups continue to make salmonella and other pathogen detection a priority, it is necessary for processors more...

February 2007

Improving adhesion of batters and coatings

Poor coating adhesion can greatly affect final product quality and appearance. Luckily there are some tried-and-true methods of improving batter and coating more...

Avoiding iridescence in beef

Iridescence is the multicolored appearance on the surface of meat, especially cooked and sliced beef. Consumers often associate unusual color with spoiled more...

January 2007

Avoiding internal temperature variations in cooked meat

With cooking, processors must strike a delicate balance between killing pathogens, but at temperatures that don't stick a fork in the product itself. more...

December 2006

Scheduling strategies to minimize changeovers

Profitable meat processing requires efficient scheduling to minimize the downtime and product loss associated with changeovers. Growing concern about more...

October 2006

Marinades: The four most common formulation flubs

Using marinades to improve taste and texture is one of the simplest methods of adding value to meat products. However, when mistakes are made during formulation more...

September 2006

Closed pit: Reformulating to recapture barbecue flavor

Flavor is elusive, but also critical to the success of most food products, barbecue meat included. The problem is that, over time, the flavor of barbecue more...

August 2006

Failure to communicate: Do you hear what your IIC is trying to tell you?

Relationships between meat processors and inspectors from USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service have in some cases grown more difficult since FSIS switched more...

May 2006

Ready for the worst: Tips and tactics to properly prepare your plant for a recall

The Food Safety and Inspection Service definition of a recall is the voluntary removal of product from consumer or trade channels to protect the public more...

Recall! A personal survival story

I was involved in a massive product recall 25 years ago for dieldrin — a chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticide — in broilers. At the time, we did not have more...

SRM removal: Tools and procedures you need to implement now

Recent episodes in Japan and Hong Kong suggest that our trade partners mean business on the issue of the specified risk materials associated with bovine more...

April 2006

The daily grinder: Sharpening schedules that don't hold up production

Developing an effective sharpening program for grinder hole plates and knives reduces downtime and enhances produce consistency. Plates and knives are more...

March 2006

Supplier audits: Preparing a seven-point checklist to ensure accountability

As more and more meat processors move into the prepared foods arena, they are likely to encounter ingredients -- and suppliers – they never have before more...

January 2006

Five key questions to ask your spare-parts suppliers

One of the constants of plant operations is that parts break, fail or just plain wear out. Whatever the cause of failure, operators essentially have three more...

November 2005

Brace for impact: How to prep for an FSIS review

The Food Safety and Inspection Service district office has contacted your establishment with a notification that it will be sending an Enforcement Investigation more...

Calculating maintenance payoff for poultry plants

Further processing can be a double-edged sword -- while it adds value to poultry products, it is also rife with potential maintenance issues that can more...

Can your plant handle humane handling?

The issue of animal handling extends beyond the processing plant. Across the country, a movement is afoot to educate and ultimately audit trucking firms more...

A survival guide to product recalls

A product recall can be both traumatic and costly for meat processors. Worse, if improperly handled it can send a company's fortunes plummeting, sometimes more...