Back to R&D main

Hot fat trim - In-plant support and evaluation

Project start date: 01 January 2004
Project end date: 01 June 2006
Publication date: 01 June 2006
Project status: Completed
Download Report (0.3 MB)



Collating the information collected from industry it is found that most plants processing well-conditioned carcasses carry out some form of hot fat trimming generally utilising a Wizard trimmer on low value areas. Due to the high cost of meat processing, the adoption of hot fat trimming of well-conditioned lot fed cattle with excessive fat cover is recommended. The practice of hot fat trimming on the exterior surface of grass fed and short period lot fed cattle is not usually necessary due to the carcass fat cover being within specification. If trimming of the fat is necessary to meet fat cover specification, then hot fat removal should be considered due to the potential productivity gains in reduced labour effort and hard fat issues.


During 2004 - 2006, MLA funded a series of projects with Food Science Australia (FSA), in collaboration with commercial processing partners. This developed a hot fat trim tool which was trialled in several plants (4 out of the intended 8).

During trials, the following possible benefits of removing fat prior to chilling were identified:
Reduced carcass weight to chill
Potential improvement in the carcass chill due to the reduction in fat cover thickness
Reduced hard fat OH&S issues
Opportunity to pack fat hot, allowing packaging efficiencies to be realized
Eliminate the cooling & heating steps associated with rendering cold fat.
Reduction in work effort associated with cold fat removal
Potential of an increase in marble score from marginal product due to effective chilling
Reduced incidence of air bubbles in vacuum packs
Potential increase in customer product acceptance due to improved fat surface finish.

The perception of the tool developed by FSA was that it has large potential benefits including improved surface finish and reduced labour; however it is seen as being too restrictive in its use and needing improvement in blade life. Most plants expressed concern over the success of an automated fat depth sensing and adjustment system particularly in maintaining a correct trim specification when fat depth specification varies between different areas. The plants believed if the prototype tool was able to allow high value areas to be safely trimmed flow on benefits like better/ faster chill, improved food safety, possible marble score improvement as well as a reduction in hard fat issues would be achievable.

However, the tool was not developed further and was not commercialised.

More information

Project manager: David Beatty
Primary researcher: CSIRO, Food science Australia