By Korlapu Kousalya

MSc. Food Technology, Andhra Pradesh, India. E-mail id: kkousalya128@gmail.com

The Meat and Poultry industry stands at the forefront of innovation, constantly seeking ways to enhance efficiency, ensure product quality, and meet the growing demands of consumers. According to FAO, global meat production is expected to expand by nearly 44Mt by 2030. China, The United States, the European Union, Brazil, and Russia are the world’s top 5 meat producers. In 2023, Brazil witnessed a 3% rise in production of chicken meat. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization Corporate Statistical Database (FAOSTAT), India ranks 3rd in Egg production and 8th in meat production in the world, as mentioned by Shri Parshottam Rupala, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying.

Meat consumers are concerned mostly with meat quality. It is the prime factor in ensuring consumer satisfaction. The physical (tenderness, collagen maturity etc.) and chemical aspects (fat, protein, moisture content, antioxidant capacity) were influenced by numerous factors during the production, and slaughter process. The quality of meat is affected by the genetic propensity of the animal, rearing, and nutritional status during production. The Meat and Poultry industry stands at the forefront of innovation, constantly seeking ways to enhance efficiency, ensure product quality, and meet the growing demands of consumers. In recent years, Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIR) has emerged as a game-changer, providing a non-destructive and rapid analysis technique. This article explores the role of NIR in the meat industry, shedding light on its principles, applications, and the quality properties it can effectively estimate.

Introduction to Meat Properties

Meat, a vital component of global diets, exhibits a diverse range of properties such as moisture content, fat composition, protein levels, and more. Understanding these properties is crucial for ensuring product quality, nutritional value, and consumer satisfaction. Traditional methods of analysis often involve time-consuming processes and may be invasive, leading the industry to seek more efficient alternatives.

Principles and Applications of NIR in the Meat Industry

Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIR) relies on the interaction between near-infrared light and molecular vibrations within a sample. This non-destructive technique allows for rapid analysis without altering the integrity of the meat product. In the meat industry, NIR is extensively applied for the quantitative and qualitative analysis of various components, including moisture, fat, protein, and collagen.

NIR technology utilizes the unique absorbency patterns of different molecular bonds, enabling precise measurements. It has found applications in incoming raw material inspection, quality control during processing, and final product analysis. This real-time monitoring capability contributes to improved process control, reduced waste, and enhanced overall product quality.

Fig. b. Meats at different storage conditions

Tips for selecting fresh and healthy meat.

Tips for selecting fresh and healthy meat.

Quality Properties Estimated by NIR

1. Moisture Content:

NIR spectroscopy provides accurate and swift measurements of moisture content in meat products. Controlling moisture levels is crucial for preventing microbial growth, maintaining texture, and ensuring the desired shelf 

2. Fat Composition:

The fat content of meat significantly influences its taste, texture, and nutritional profile. NIR allows for the quick assessment of fat composition, aiding producers in optimizing formulations for flavour and health 

3. Protein Levels:

NIR spectroscopy is adept at estimating protein content in meat, enabling producers to verify nutritional claims and maintain consistent product 

4. Collagen Analysis:

Collagen, a key component in meat structure, influences attributes such as NIR technology facilitates the assessment of collagen levels, assisting in the production of meats with optimal texture and mouth-feel.

In conclusion, the integration of Near-Infrared Spectroscopy in the Meat and Poultry industry marks a significant step towards precision and efficiency. By rapidly and non-invasively assessing crucial quality properties, NIR technology empowers producers to meet consumer expectations while streamlining processes. Its ability to swiftly and accurately assess key properties revolutionizes the production process, ensuring quality and consistency in the final products. As the industry continues to embrace innovation, NIR stands as a beacon of progress, shaping the future of meat production.

“Don’t count your chickens until they are hatched!!”