17 Jul 2014

High voltage research in meat industry

3:00 pm on 17 July 2014

Research funded by the Australian meat industry and carried out at the Alliance Group's Pukeuri Plant into the use of high voltage electric pulses could bring big benefits.

Alaa Bekhit from Otago University is leading a research team that has been looking at how high-voltage electric pulses can make different cuts of meat more tender.

He says while whole carcasses have long been subjected to electrical stimulation, of between 50 and 1000 volts - his work looks at sending electrical pulses into individual cuts at up to 25-thousand volts.

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"We used our system to improve the tenderness of the meat and we see that we get a much earlier tenderising effect of about 25-percent increase in the tenderness."

Dr Bekhit says the research has the potential not only to improve the tenderness of meat for consumers - but make different meat cuts more valuable.

"Well I hope we set up the technology to deliver a good tenderising effect to less tender cuts because that can effectively improve the economics by improving the value of different meat cuts that are not perceived as tender.

From research and from the literature we can see that only about 10-percent of the animal is regarded as premium or prime grilling cuts. The rest of the carcass is regarded as between medium and less tender cuts and they are sold for a low value.

Applying this technology can improve the tenderness and consequently the value of different cuts."