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Mechanically separated meat can be on par with manually separated meat

First press release

A new European research project, MACSYS, will develop a new technology for the improvement of meat quality and meat quality control. Many players in the meat industry stand to benefit.

Development of technology for mechanical processes of meat-bone separation makes it possible to produce mechanically separated meat (MSM) in a quality that cannot be distinguished from regular meat mince.

Despite its reputation, there are several advantages to the mechanical separation of meat. Due to higher meat yields from each carcass, the use of mechanical separation can improve meat production yield and sustainability.

In the future, the use of mechanical recovery may also be a condition for maintaining a national meat production. In some European countries, it is a growing problem that food production is being moved to countries with lower labour and production costs. This leads to job losses in the livestock production industry and in slaughterhouses.

The development of technologies that automate slaughter processes may help to maintain national food production. However, the condition is that MSM has a quality that can compete with manually separated meat, and this is exactly where the MACSYS EU project comes into the picture.

Development of new technology for quality control

Quality control of comminuted (ground and homogenised) meat is a major technological challenge. Modern slaughter processes take place at a very rapid pace, and quality control must be carried out as an integral part of the slaughter process.

The high pace poses a particular challenge in terms of chicken meat quality. So far, there is no control technology that can guarantee the quality of comminuted meat.

The MACSYS research project has therefore set out to develop a new technology to monitor and sort comminuted poultry meat according to quality. Hence, the project full title is “Development of an objective method to perform quality classification of comminuted poultry meat”.

The aim of the project is to develop a reliable analytical method that can objectively quantify quality traits of mechanically separated meat as well as other types of comminuted meat, both by biochemical and histochemical methods. For the histochemical methods, an automated image analysis system will be developed which will include an objective determination of level of degradation of muscle structure in comminuted meat. Furthermore, sensors that can monitor the most important quality traits on line at the production sites will be developed and tested under practical situations. These methods will enable legislators in collaboration with relevant industrial partners and consumer organizations to classify comminuted meat on quality traits, rather than on method of recovery which is currently the case.

Who will benefit from the project?

The project will have significant impact in several areas. Food laboratories and inspection services will benefit from the automated analysis system which can be established as the new common method in the EU for meat quality assessment, saving costs due to a fast, objective analysis.

The broiler industry will benefit from the fast-track method which can be used to perform in-line quality tests and hereby increase the market value of meat products. This is because a significant amount of MSM has the potential to be classified as meat.

Meat processing equipment manufacturers will be able to integrate the fast-track method into the production line, and add value to existing equipment through the possibility of performing in-line meat quality classification.

Facts about MACSYS

MACSYS started 1 January 2014, and is a two-year project involving nine partners, including research institutions and companies from six EU countries.

The project is financed by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme and has received Euros 1,247,404 in funding.

Further information
Associate Professor Margrethe Therkildsen, Department of Food Science - Differentiated & Biofunctional Foods, Aarhus University, Denmark. E-mail: margrethe.therkildsen@food.au.dk Direct phone: + 45 8715 8007

Please visit www.macsysproject.eu


  • Aarhus University, Denmark (RTD performer)
  • Robert Damkjaer AS, Denmark (SME)
  • Lima S.A.S., France (SME)
  • Carometec AS, Denmark (SME)
  • Software for Critical Systems, Spain (SME)
  • University of Copenhagen, Denmark (RTD performer)
  • Leatherhead Food International Limited, United Kingdom (RTD performer)
  • Max Rubner Institut Bundesforschungsinstitut Fur Ernahrung Und Lebensmittel, Germany (RTD performer)
  • Marel HF, Iceland (End-user).