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Technology will have pigs revealing their secrets

A new technique from researchers in Montreal may make sorting pork by quality much easier


Who knew pigs had so many secrets. And who knew scientists in Montreal might have found a way to coax them out.

Researchers at McGill University say by using a new technique – developed by them in conjunction with Agriculture Canada and the pork industry – they will be able to tell which cuts of pork are the best, what their texture is and how moist these cuts are.

The technology involves using spectroscopy, a technique based on the analysis of the wavelengths of visible and invisible light produced by matter.

By measuring the wavelengths of reflected light that pork cuts release, the researchers discovered they could easily determine the colour, texture and exudation (water release) of the meat.

The technique, say the researchers, is revolutionary as previous laboratory techniques had involved destroying the testing sample.

In this case, production workers could use the technique to conduct objective and scientific analysis of the meat right on the production line.

And it means production workers can more accurately sort the meat according to the quality demanded by different export markets.

Researchers foresee the technology being used to optimize production and create exports that more closely fit the target markets. It could also result in higher quality jobs.

The research is not far from leaving the laboratory and entering factories. The researchers are now looking for partners who are interested in helping to build a ready-to-use device for a commercial production line.

The study was part of a project supported by funding from the Natural Science and Engineering Council of Canada, and le Fonds québécois de la recherche sur la nature et les technologies.