November 27, 2008

Biotronics receives grant for pork grading technology

Biotronics has received a total of US$500,000 grant from the USDA and the Iowa Department of Economic Development to develop and test their prototype pork grading system.


The system measures the amount of intramuscular fat, commonly called "marbling", in the pork loin of carcasses in the packing plant.


Doyle Wilson, President of Biotronics, said their ultrasound technology is a non-invasive and safe method to measure marbling in pork carcasses, and the first commercial prototype will be ready for testing in 6-9 months.


The technology is used on intact hot carcass, within minutes after carcass harvest and before the chilling process. The system is able to operating at speeds of 1,200 carcasses per hour, which according to Wilson, is a line processing speed used by many US pork packing plants.


Wilson said the technology will allow packers to capitalise on identifying highly marbled pork loins for specialty markets. For plants that can track individual pork carcasses, the packer can provide ultrasound information to the pig producer to assist in genetic improvement programmes for pork quality.


The Iowa Department of Economic Development provided US$150,000, supplementing the US$350,000 USDA grant, said Wilson.


Highly marbled pork is a trait valued by markets such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, some US niche markets and chefs in the white table cloth restaurant business. Marbling adds flavour and juiciness to pork.


Biotronics, Inc., a food animal ultrasound research and development company, develops and markets ultrasound technology and software for swine for use in the breeding selection of live pigs.

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