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Development of the G2 Tenderometer portable measuring instrument
There have been many attempts to develop meat tenderness measurement devices over the last 30 years. However, despite the 20 or so devices that are reported in the literature, the most commonly used devices are still the G1 Tenderometer and the Warner-Bratzler.
In the early 1970's MIRINZ (Meat Industry Research Institute of New Zealand) developed the first or Generation One (G1) tenderometer. This device was developed in an effort to provide a quicker, cheaper and more reliable tool to measure cooked meat tenderness - one that could be used in both a research and a commercial environment. The device was based upon measuring the force required to shear through a 1 cm x 1 cm slice of meat. The shearing device was a triangular blade and was designed to simulate a human tooth which sliced downwards through a meat sample that was contained in a 1 cm wide tray. It overcame the significant cost associated with the linear displacement motors of the Warner-Bratzler devices and based on very promising trials, the G1 Tenderometer was adopted as the industry standard measurement tool for meat tenderness.
However, the G1 Tenderometer is bulky, relatively heavy (12kg) and has limited portability due to the air pressure and power requirements.
Development of the G2
To address all of these issues, a new tenderometer, known as the G2, was constructed as part of the Meat Quality, Science and Technology programme, funded jointly by Meat & Wool New Zealand and Meat & Livestock Australia.
The key points of the design of this new unit were the miniaturisation, water proofing and mobility of the unit, improved sample loading and automated sample shearing and data downloading.
The device is based on an electric motor which pushes the meat against a fixed load cell. The unit does not therefore require compressed air, just a standard power socket to plug into or batteries.
The samples are placed in a line on a tray that presents the samples to the shearing head. The new sample loading and switch sequence allows automatic cycling of the unit; in essence, this means that the 10 sample bites can be loaded into the presentation tray and the unit will then cycle automatically through the shearing procedures, testing and recording the values from each sample automatically without any further operator intervention.
In laboratory conditions, the G1 and G2 Tenderometers appear to correlate closely (r2 = 0.89-0.94) to standard shear force measurements (i.e. Warner-Bratzler method), and therefore appear reliable as an objective tenderness measure.
Note that the absolute values of KgF for the standard method are different to the results (at a similar tenderness rating) to either the G1 or G2 Tenderometer. Hence, this may be an immediate obstacle for adoption amongst certain user groups in Australia, such as science groups, which have mostly relied on the expensive testing methods in the past. However, after saying this, all science groups in Australia are involved and providing various level of scientific support in current MLA strategic EQ & MQST research, and are in principle supportive of using the G2 Tenderometer for various applications. The likelihood of adoption of G2 amongst processors and science groups was rated highly because of the support from the research groups and presence they have in those plants also likely to adopt MQST technologies & capability.
Research & facilitated adoption
In 2007, Carne Technologies Limited (Carnetech) was chosen as the commercialiser of the G2 Tenderometer, with Fix-All Services as the sub-contracted manufacturer. These two organisations had developed the original prototype G2 Tenderometer to a pre-commercial version. Carnetech has also carried out some laboratory trials to calibrate the G2 Tenderometer against previous technologies.
This development process proved to be much more difficult and lengthy than anticipated, with the pre-commercial unit only ready for industry trials in 2011. A MLA/MWNZ industry trial project was to be the final facilitated adoption step in the commercialisation of the MLA/MWNZ developed G2 Tenderometer. Ten units were to be manufactured and trialled in by processors and/or meat researchers. The project included benchmarking against existing technologies as well as validating the pre-commercial G2 Tenderometer design in a variety of processor environments and uses.
Each processor was to have the option of purchasing the G2 Tenderometer during or at completion of the project if they wished to continue using the G2 Tenderometer. This was to be strongly encouraged so as to validate the true value proposition to each processor.
In New Zealand, several processors trialled the G2, but there was only limited interest from Australian processors in the technology. Only one processor, ACC, has taken delivery of a G2 for commercial use. As this was the first pre-production run for use by industry, some usability and design issues were identified and addressed.
Fix-All will continue to be the commercialiser for the G2, and is is supporting existing units and well as offering an improved version of the current G2.
This page was last updated on 21/06/2017
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