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SmartStretch stretching of hot-boned primals so as to improve eating quality

Background

Attempts over the years to speed up the slaughter and processing of meat have been limited by the impact on important meat quality traits, such as tenderness.  There are numerous studies that have shown that if meat is prevented from shortening prior to rigor mortis then this will confer benefits by improving tenderness. These studies have given rise to Tenderstretch (pelvic suspension), Tendercut (skeletal separation), and Tenderbound (Pi-Vac Elasto-Pack system) systems.  Both Tenderstretch and Tendercut are applied to whole carcases and are not suitable for hot-boned meat.  By contrast Tenderbound is suitable for hot boned meat, but has had limited adoption commercially.

As part of the MLA/MWNZ joint eating quality program, several R&D prototypes were trialled so as to stretch primals in order to improve eating quality.  The earliest machine design was named the BOA, and was subsequently renamed as SmartStretch technology.

To improve eating quality, primals must be hot boned, with muscle fibres aligned in one direction.  

The SmartStretch machine squeezes the primal into a round bag with at least 20% compression over the original diameter, with the primal to be retained in the bag for at least 12 hours.

SmartStretch outcomes

Despite extensive testing in numerous production environments, MLA was unable to consistently improve eating quality in all cases, with eating quality improvements restricted to only some primal types. Hence further commercialisation of the SmartStretch machine for the improvement of eating quality has been suspended.

Alternative use of the technology​ - SmartShape

During production trials of the SmartStretch machine, a commercial opportunity was identified in the shaping of primals, regardless of any improvement in eating quality. This ocurred because stretched meat held for more than 12 hours in a package will retain its share even when removed  from a bag. See SmartShape summaries and detailed reports for further information about this  technology for shaping.

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This page was last updated on 24/07/2017

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