Objective measurement of the eating quality of carcases has long been recognised as the ‘holy grail’ for the red meat industry.
SA-based company MEQ Probe is well on its way to this with a hand-held probe, developed in collaboration with the University of Adelaide’s Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics.
The probe, containing a laser, is inserted into the carcase and sends a beam of light into the meat. It captures the reflectance of this light, which with the help of machine learning can then predict eating quality traits.
The cutting-edge technology gives a measure of the shear force and intramuscular fat of the carcase, strongly linked to the tenderness, juiciness and taste of any steak or lamb chop.
To get consumers buying more red meat we need to consistently provide a great eating experience.
MEQ Probe chief executive officer Jordy Kitschke says the company’s number one goal is to improve the eating quality of red meat, ultimately driving the consumption of red meat.
“To get consumers buying more red meat we need to consistently provide a great eating experience,” he said.
“Meat Standards Australia studies show that 77 per cent of consumers would eat more red meat if it was always tender – we see this as a huge opportunity."
In the past 18 months, Mr Kitschke says the technology has been trialled on lamb and beef carcases in multiple abattoirs and he hopes a MEQ Probe will be operational in an abattoir by the end of the year.
“We have had a commercial focus from day one,” he said. "Although these are high-tech lasers, it's about being practical and realistic about what is going to work outside of a lab.
“Having a diverse team ranging from laser physicists to meat scientists means we can deliver a product that the industry will actually use.
“All of the measurements are in real time so it easily keeps up with chain speed, plus it can be used on hot carcases which currently isn't possible.”
MEQ Probe is one of eight finalists in the Pitch in the Paddock Competition, being held this month at Beef Australia 2018 in Rockhampton, Qld. It is vying for $5000 cash, plus training with KPMG.
The young entrepreneur will also present at the Eating Quality Revolution seminar on Friday, May 11 at Beef Australia.