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Science Eyes Success with High-Tech Imagery

There’s a lot of talk these days about enhancing the image of the pork industry in the public eye. From a science standpoint, however, it may be the use of cutting edge imagery that catches the eye of producers and plants seeking an advantage. While image might not be everything, high-tech imaging could be the next big thing for the pork industry in assessing meat and carcass quality and gathering valuable information on live animals.
 
Hyperspectral imaging to assess pork quality
 
It may be hard to gain consensus in the pork sector, but there’s one thing that producers, processors and consumers can agree upon: quality is king. Unfortunately, the current method for assessing quality in the plant is a subjective approach based on color and water holding capacity. In today’s tech friendly world, “subjective” is a four letter word, as it makes consistency hard to achieve.
 
There is clearly a need for a reliable, objective and non-invasive option in gauging pork quality that won’t compromise meat cut integrity, and filling needs is what science is all about. In this case, researchers turned to hyperspectral imaging, which collects and processes information from across the electromagnetic spectrum. At present, this technology is finding success in grading pork quality based on standards of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).
 
Of course, any discussion of quality must include marbling, so scientists turned their focus to fat measurement. Since current practice for gauging marbling levels involves comparing a chart to a given pork sample, hyperspectral imaging was again used successfully to remove the subjective aspect from prediction of marbling scores.
 
By allowing industry to designate certain products for certain markets – such as the more marbled cuts to Japan – this imaging approach could be a game changer in maximizing revenue for a sector where profit is often hard to come by.
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