Meat quality control app for better quality meat packing, processing, storage. Manage meat quality, traceability, inventory, labels, shipping, and meat export.

Accurate production quality inspection  reduces errors

Process, bone, and pack the exact quantity at the exact specification from customers, schedule lots for orders, automatic boning station specification sheets (on-screen or print), production recorded as it happens to maximise accuracy.

Every order filled and dispatched accurately, on time with correct quality

Scan pallets onto orders, or allow farmsoft to suggest which inventory should be on an order using FIFO. This process ensures the exact meat product is sent to every customer on time, every time.

Precise inventory quality inspection  for less meat waste

Reduces waste through better FIFO management, stock-takes, accurate order picking & shipping, meat ageing management, and inventory alerts.

Efficient livestock deliveries saves time and ensures quality control 

Increase the efficiency of livestock deliveries using options like scanning incoming bar-codes/RFID or one click data entry to save time and reduce errors.

Reduce meat waste by 99% with better quality control

Inventory control ensures there is no 'shrinkage', food inventory is FIFO managed, and expiring inventory always monitored.

Reduce quality inspection  administration time by 60%

Automatic paperwork, labels, and reporting reduces the burden on administration teams and saves everyone's time.

Better meat quality control now

Quality control and food safety has never been easier with industry standard quality tests, food safety checklists; or configure your own tests. 

100% accurate meat order quality inspection 

Guarantee only the correct meat inventory is shipped for each order, on time, every time.

Consistent quality control for maximum meat yield

Guarantee the quality of sides and cuts with flexible quality control testing systems. Capture customer complaints & feedback, monitor livestock supplier performance, instant quality alerts across the business.

Reduce meat packing & meat processing quality inspection  compliance costs

Rapidly generate correct (official marks approved) labels and export documents.  Automatic traceability, and instant audit & recall systems reduce on-going compliance costs. 

Faster meat quality inspection inventory

Know exactly which inventory is available, where it is, and when it expires:  any-time, anywhere.

Easier work order management

Rapidly assign customer orders to meat production batches, line & inventory managers receive instant alerts.  Precision processing & packing reduces meat waste.

Complete business management app for meat packing, meat traceability, and animal processing businesses with industry specific reporting and tools.    Farmsoft comes with full project implementation management, training, and support solutions to deliver a fully tailored meat processing & meat packing solution that matches your exact business requirements and delivers maximum efficiency, reduces waste, and provides automatic traceability.

Livestock & inventory QC

Manage incoming livestock in unlimited pens; all animals issued tracking number, print / email livestock delivery receipt. Manage packaging (crates, cartons, labels, bags), receive alerts when inventory needs re-ordering.   Inventory audit trail and tracking.  Unlimited inventory items. Bar-code inventory management.

Stock-takes & quality

Perform stock-takes any time by category or storage location.  Know how much inventory (livestock, sides, finished product, and packaging materials) you have in real time, even search by storage location.  Report by product line and storage location or rail, or product category.  Manage the meat ageing process and ensure correct aged meat is provided for each customer.  

Animal quality processing

Use inexpensive tablet terminals so each team member can see where they are in the processing stage and rapidly record data for their tasks regardless of position in processing chain (weigh box, knock box, head removal, evisceration, inspection, further processing, retain rail, scale, packaging, shipping and export).

Sales, shipping,  orders QC

Print pick sheet to pick meat orders manually, or scan inventory / pallets onto orders, or auto select inventory,  or rapidly sell without an order.  Track paid, and unpaid invoices.  Attach documents to invoices / photos of outgoing shipments.

Traceability & recalls

Instant mock recalls both up and down the supply chain tracks to livestock supplier, property, and establishment.  Recall using any key such as livestock supplier lot/batch, livestock supplier name, delivery date, invoice #, inventory # or animal number, RFID, pallet #, customer reference, order # and more..

Invoices, BOL, labels for pallets & inventory

Choose from a selection of export documentation, invoices, bill of lading, freight notes, and industry standard meat labels (HALAL, INSPECTED, EU) in all languages.   Our team will add new labels, export docs, and invoices if you have special requirements. 

Further meat processing

The production manager can use the Boning Spec screen to rapidly set the boning specification for each station / employee, each station can have an inexpensive tablet that displays their spec, and they can use voice control to skip to the next animal to ensure maximum meat processing efficiency and hygiene. 

Logistics & QC

View open meat orders & balances. Assign orders to specific staff for picking, assign to trucks / driver, transport company.  Set loading order for multiple orders on one truck.  See when orders are ready shipped and print bill of lading, export documents, and invoices. 

Quality control

Perform QC tests on incoming livestock, carcass sides, packed meat, on shipments pre-shipping / sealing of export containers. Configure QC tests for ANYTHING you want to test, including livestock supplier quality control tracking.  Attach unlimited photos & documents to QC tests from your cell or tablet.  

Broadcast messages

Broadcast messages to all boning stations, or show messages on individual processing stations (like kill box, evisceration, weigh box, etc...)

Low cost hardware & on-going costs

Use inexpensive generic hardware with farmsoft (save $150,000 implementation costs) and continue saving every year with lower I.T. maintenance costs (see brochure

Finance apps

Export invoices (AR) and Purchase Orders (AP) to your chosen finance app. If we don't support yours, let us know and we will add support.   

Meat packing app for beef, poultry, seafood, goat, bison, lamb, hog.
Fully integrated traceability software manages meat traceability app for slaughterhouses and meat packing plants of beef, bison, goat, lamb, hog, poultry and other animals.  Farmsoft meat packing software solutions are for all sized of meat packing operations from co-operatives to large commercial meat packing plants.  Increase meat packing quality control with Farmsoft meat quality inspection app.  Farmsoft slaughterhouse software delivers beef packing software solutions for all sized meat plants.   The Farmsoft Meat packing app delivers high levels of meat fabrication accuracy, meat packing efficiencies from accurate meat labels (USDA, EU, AU).  The Farmsoft meat quality control app makes meat quality inspection and quality management easy.  Use the Farmsoft Meat Packing App for massive savings on meat packing hardware;  Farmsoft's hardware agnostic design means you can use any scales, printers, or equipment with your Farmsoft meat packing solution.  

Farmsoft poultry software support poultry packing, poultry packing software, poultry traceability, and poultry quality inspection.

The continuous demand for high standards of quality assurance in the meat production of today and tomorrow calls for development of new tools capable of meeting such demands. The present paper aims to re-think the traditional way of using feeding as a quality control tool in the production of meat and to introduce the potential of a nutrigenomic approach as a first step in the development of pro-active quality control systems which fulfil future demands from industry and consumers. A few chosen examples present how specific feeding strategies can manipulate (i) muscle protein turnover and thereby meat tenderness as well as the cost and sustainability of the production and (ii) muscle energy levels at slaughter and thereby the pH decline, water-holding capacity and the sensory characteristics of meats. The examples are discussed in relation to exploiting essential and basic understanding of physiological and physical processes, which can subsequently be included in a systems biology line of thought of importance for development of unique decision support systems in future meat production.

Control of fresh meat quality through manipulation of muscle fiber characteristics
•  Fresh meat qualities are affected by various intrinsic and extrinsic factors.

•  The meat quality is basically dependent on muscle fiber characteristics.

•  The meat quality can be improved by manipulation of muscle fiber characteristics.

•  Muscle fiber characteristics can be controlled by various potential factors.

Variations of fresh meat quality exist because the quality traits are affected by various intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Because the meat quality is basically dependent on muscle fiber characteristics, numerous studies have reported the relationship between quality traits and fiber characteristics. Despite intensive research, the relationship is yet to be fully established, however, the present knowledge suggests several potential ways to manipulate muscle fiber characteristics to improve meat quality. The present paper reviews the definition of fresh meat quality, meat quality traits and variations of meat quality. Also, this review presents recent knowledge underlying the relationship between fresh meat quality traits and muscle fiber characteristics. Finally, the present work proposes several potential factors including breed, genotype, sex, hormone, growth performance, diet, muscle location, exercise and ambient temperature that can be used to manipulate muscle fiber characteristics and subsequently meat quality in animals.

Meat quality traits, Muscle fiber characteristics, Muscle fiber types
1. Introduction
Meat quality has always been important to the consumer, and it is an especially critical issue for the meat industry in the 21st century. As consumer demand for high quality meat is increasing in most countries, the meat industry should consistently produce and supply quality meat that is tasty, safe and healthy for the consumer to ensure continued consumption of meat products. In order to produce high quality meat, it is necessary to understand the characteristics of meat quality traits and factors to control them.

Fresh meat quality is difficult to define because it is a complex concept determined by consumer preferences. Because fresh meat is animal tissue that is suitable for use as food, the quality characteristics are influenced by various factors such as muscle structure, chemical composition, chemical environment, interaction of chemical constituents, postmortem (p.m.) changes in muscle tissues, stress and pre-slaughter effects, product handling, processing and storage, microbiological numbers and populations, etc. In particular, fresh meat quality is directly related to muscle fiber characteristics because skeletal muscles mainly consist of muscle fibers. The muscle fibers are characterized by their morphological traits, and contractile and metabolic properties (Lee, Joo, & Ryu, 2010). Morphology traits such as total number of fibers (TNF) and cross-sectional area of fibers (CSAF) are major determinant factors of muscle mass as well as meat quality. Also, contractile and metabolic properties of muscle are differentiated by muscle fiber types, and thus fresh meat quality is strongly related to fiber type composition (FTC) in muscle.

In general, there are four different muscle fiber types in adult skeletal muscle, which are slow-oxidative or type I, fast oxido-glycolytic or type IIA, and fast glycolytic IIX and IIB (Schiaffino & Reggiani, 1996). All of these fiber types are observed in most muscles of meat animals, and their relative composition in the different muscles can determine the predominance of muscle's metabolic properties (Ozawa et al., 2000, Ryu and Kim, 2005). Consequently, p.m. muscle metabolism which is a crucial factor to determine fresh meat quality is affected by TNF, CSAF and FTC (Kim et al., 2013a, Ryu et al., 2006). These muscle fiber characteristics vary by various factors including breed (Ryu et al., 2008), selection (Larzul et al., 1999), gender (Ozawa et al., 2000), hormone (Rehfeldt, Fiedler, & Stickland, 2004), growth performance (Gondret et al., 2006, Kim et al., 2013b), diet (Jeong et al., 2012) and muscle location (Beermann et al., 1990, Hwang et al., 2010). Therefore, understanding the relationship between muscle fiber characteristics and meat quality traits will improve the production of quality meat, and manipulation of muscle fiber characteristics would have profound impacts on the profitability of the meat industry. The present paper reviews the scientific literature in meat quality traits, muscle fiber characteristics and potential factors to manipulate muscle fiber characteristics.

2. Fresh meat quality
The term ‘fresh meat quality’ is very ambiguous because its definition varies depending on the background of consumers in different regions of the world. Accordingly, first of all, meat quality should be defined by most consumer preferences. Consumer preferences are related directly to the human senses such as appearance, smell, taste and mouthfeel. Also, fresh meat quality can be defined by scientific factors including composition, nutrients, colorants, water-holding capacity (WHC), tenderness, functionality, flavors, spoilage, contamination, etc.

The quality of fresh meat indicates its usefulness to the consumer and its acceptability for cooking. The important quality traits for fresh meat are color, WHC, texture and amount of fat (intramuscular fat/intermuscular fat/subcutaneous fat), while the important traits for eating quality of cooked meat are tenderness, flavor and juiciness. In general, consumers rate color as the most important quality trait for fresh meat, while tenderness is rated as the most important palatability trait for cooked meat followed by flavor and juiciness (Glitsh, 2000). However, this can vary among consumers depending upon past experiences and cultural background. Therefore, the order of importance of meat quality traits can vary by country (Warner, Greenwood, Pethick, & Ferguson, 2010).

The appearance of meat is determined by meat color, packaged meat color, amount and distribution of fat, fat color, amount of drip on the surface of the meat, purge in the tray, and texture of the meat (Becker, 2000). These appearance quality traits (AQT) strongly influence the consumer's decision to select good quality meat at the point of purchase. However, the consumer determines the actual meat quality at the point of consumption with eating quality traits (EQT) such as tenderness, flavor, juiciness and succulence (Acebron & Dopico, 2000). Additionally, consumers assess meat quality by reliance quality traits (RQT) such as safety, nutrition, animal welfare, ethics, price, product presentation, origin, and brand of meat products (Troy & Kerry, 2010). Therefore, it is appropriate to define the term ‘fresh meat quality’ by consumer preferences that are determined by RQT as well as AQT and EQT of meat (Joo & Kim, 2011).

3. Meat quality traits
Quality traits of fresh meat are categorized based on major intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Generally, intrinsic factors are the physiological characteristics of meat such as AQT and EQT, whereas extrinsic factors are the RQT of meat products (Joo & Kim, 2011). All these traits contribute to the consumer's expectation of high quality meat. Consumers determine quality meat as one with desirable color, firm texture, less drip, high marbling, and moderate visible fat and fresh meat odor, while discoloration, soft texture, large amount of drip, less marbling, excessive visible fat and abnormal meat odor are considered as poor quality traits for fresh meat. Also, the consumer expects quality meat that is reliable in relation to safety, nutrition, sustainability and ethics (Troy & Kerry, 2010).

3.1. Appearance quality traits (AQT)
Meat color is the most important AQT because it is the first factor seen by the consumer and is used as an indication of freshness and wholesomeness. Basically, meat color is dependent on species, age and muscle type, and the color differences are due to the different content of myoglobin (Mb) in muscle. The higher Mb content in type I muscle fiber is due to Mb's function of storing and delivering oxygen in the muscle. The Mb content in muscle is affected by factors such as exercise and diet of the animal as well as genetic and environmental factors. Many factors contribute to the discoloration of meat during processing, storage and display. The predominant determinant of meat color stability is the rate of OxyMb oxidation (Faustman, Sun, Mancini, & Suman, 2010), and the rate of discoloration in meat is muscle-specific. Rapid discoloration occurs in muscles that contain greater relative proportions of type I muscle fibers because of higher oxygen consumption rate (Jeong et al., 2009).

Two other important AQT for fresh meat are the amount of drip on the surface of meat and purge in the tray. Drip and purge loss depend on the WHC of meat, and WHC is closely related to the color of meat due both to its role in the loss of Mb and reflectance at the surface of the meat (Joo, Kauffman, Kim, & Kim, 1995). Additionally, WHC influences other physical properties including texture and firmness of raw meat, and eating properties of cooked meat. Drip loss originates from the spaces between muscle fiber bundles and the perimysial network, and the spaces between muscle fibers and the endomysial network (Offer & Cousins, 1992). These spaces appear during rigor development when muscle converts to meat. It is well known that excessive drip exudation and soft texture result from the combination of rapid pH decline, and high temperature in p.m. muscle (Joo et al., 1999, Warner et al., 1997). This is an especially prevalent problem for pork which contains greater relative proportions of type II muscle fibers compared to beef or lamb.

Meat texture is directly related to the size of muscle fiber and the amount of connective tissue, and is partially affected by the quantity of intramuscular fat (IMF). Relatively large muscle bundles are responsible for the coarse, undesirable texture on the transversely cut surface of meat. The diversity of muscle is attributed to the heterogeneous characteristics of the individual muscle fibers and the mosaic composition (Taber, 1998). Muscle fiber diameter varies with species, chronological age, state of nutrition of the animal, genetic background and composition of muscle fiber types (Karlsson et al., 1993). The coarseness of the meat surface is increased with thickened connective-tissue strands as well as increased size of muscle bundles. The connective tissue content of meat varies with species, chronological age, state of nutrition of the animal and muscle fiber characteristics (Klont, Brocks, & Eikelenboom, 1998). Meat firmness is also influenced by the status and quantity of the subcutaneous fat surrounding muscles and IMF. Because IMF deposits mainly in the perimysium between muscle bundles, meat firmness is partially influenced by the IMF firmness which is affected by composition of fatty acids and temperature.

It is known that IMF produces effects on flavor, juiciness, tenderness and visual characteristics of meat with increased marbling in meat, although there has been extensive debate about the contribution of IMF to the tenderness of meat. The quantity of IMF is affected by many factors including animal breed, slaughter weight (Park et al., 2002), feeding strategy (Du, Yin, & Zhu, 2010), and growth rate (Smith et al., 2009). In animals, adipogenesis occurs the earliest in the visceral fat deposit, closely followed by subcutaneous and intermuscular deposits, and adipogenesis in intramuscular fat occurs last (Hausman et al., 2009). This adipogenesis can be affected by genetic, nutritional and environmental factors that are the key signaling pathways regulating adipogenesis in skeletal muscle (Du & Dodson, 2011). Although there are variations among species, IMF tends to increase with advancing age when the major stages of muscle growth have been completed. IMF deposition is highly heritable and is positively correlated with general body fatness in the animal. Moreover, IMF is positively correlated with percentage of red muscle fiber, but negatively correlated with white muscle fiber in muscle (Hwang et al., 2010).

3.2. Eating quality traits (EQT)
Tenderness is the most important EQT because it strongly influences consumer's perceptions of acceptability. Meat tenderness is mainly affected by the amount and solubility of connective tissue, the composition and contractile state of muscle fibers, and the extent of proteolysis in rigor muscle. Also, IMF content indirectly affects meat tenderness. Tenderness is more important for red meat such as beef and lamb because of a high composition of red muscle fibers and connective tissue compared to pork or chicken. The content of connective tissue is related to muscle fiber characteristics because muscle fibers occupy 75–90% of the muscle volume, and the morphology of the muscle fiber is a major determinant factor of mass (Lee et al., 2010). The heterogeneity of muscle fiber characteristics in different muscles is known to influence tenderness (Maltin, Balcerzak, Tilley, & Delday, 2003). However, the relationship between muscle fiber characteristics and meat tenderness is still controversial. Muscles with diverse muscle fiber characteristics have different patterns of p.m. change during the conversion of muscle to meat. If type II fibers are predominant in muscle, p.m. glycolysis is rapid, resulting in an accelerated pH decline in the muscle. In addition throughout the p.m. period, sarcomere lengths in muscle vary because each muscle fiber goes into rigor at different times. Consequently meat tenderness varies with the rate of glycolysis, the rigor onset post-slaughter and the extent of glycolysis, which are all related to muscle temperature as well as muscle fiber characteristics (Ali et al., 2008).

Flavor is also important for the eating quality of meat because people expect certain attributes such as savoriness. Because meats consist mainly of the lean portion and the fat portion, the meat flavor is primarily dependent on the pool of flavor precursors in these two tissues. Meat flavor is affected by species, sex, age, stress level, amount of fat, and diet of animal. Beef, pork, lamb, and poultry have distinctive flavor characteristics due to the variation of the flavor precursors generally in the fat between and within species. The effect of animal gender on meat flavor is highly related to testosterone and skatole that are produced in intact males and females, respectively. Boar taint in pork from intact males is an unpleasant urine-like and sweaty odor that is related to the presence of androstenone (5α-androst-16-en-3-one) and skatole (3-methylindole) (Grindflek et al., 2011). Androstenone is a metabolite of testosterone, and skatole is the major contributor to pastoral-flavor (Teixeira, Batista, Delfa, & Cadavez, 2005). Testosterone increases muscle growth and decreases intramuscular lipid deposition. In general, intact males deposit less fat throughout the body and within muscle, and are more susceptible to long-term pre-slaughter stress than females or castrated males. Increasing serum-like bloody aromatics and metallic flavor are due to increased levels of Mb in the meat of older animals.

Juiciness is positively related with the WHC of meat and the IMF content in meat. The IMF content directly affects juiciness as well as flavor (Hocquette et al., 2010), and the human perception of juiciness is increased as the IMF content in meat increases (Jeremiah, Gibson, Aalhus, & Dugan, 2003). Moreover, the feel of juiciness in the oral cavity is generally sustained when meat has a large amount of IMF. In general, juiciness is a more important sensory trait for pork because consumers of pork place a higher rating on juiciness than flavor or tenderness (Aaslyng et al., 2007), while consumers of beef rate tenderness as the most important palatability trait (Cho et al., 2010). A lack of juiciness is a major quality issue in pork, and pork muscle that lacks marbling exhibits a lack of juiciness. IMF content affects juiciness by enhancing the WHC of meat, by lubricating the muscle fibers during cooking, by increasing the tenderness of meat, and thus the apparent sensation of juiciness, or by stimulating salivary flow during mastication (Luchak et al., 1998). It is well known that meat with a high IMF content has improved juiciness after relatively long-heating in a moist environment, whereas meat of lower IMF content is not deteriorated by severe short-heating under dry cooking conditions.

3.3. Reliance quality traits (RQT)
Safety is always more important than AQT and EQT, and the microbial level in meat is the most important RQT for fresh meat. The categories of meat safety also include physical and chemical residues, food additives and animal identification of meat products. In general, consumers evaluate meat safety by visual and odor evaluations which are the most rapid indications of meat spoilage, although they are unreliable indicators of safety. The importance of meat as a carrier of bacterial pathogens is considerable in terms of public health. Therefore, strict and stringent safety requirements in the processing of meat have been developed and implemented in many countries. The Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system provides the basis for the meat safety management system within the meat chain (Troy & Kerry, 2010).

There is no doubt that quality meat is one with high nutritional value, and meat is one of the most nutritional foods. However, recently, the concept of nutrition has changed as the nutrition of food has reached an all-time high. In the past, quality meat was more closely related to the sensory perceptions, freshness, and safety aspects of meat products, whereas more recently it is associated with nutrition, well-being and functionality in relation to human health. Consequently, consumers may consider the high content of fat and cholesterol in meat as undesirable and unhealthy, although meat is nutritious because it is a rich source of protein, essential amino acids, minerals and vitamins. Meat composition can be manipulated to alter the nutritional profile in most cases. Dietary supplementation is the key factor which can most easily be manipulated and has one of the most profound effects on meat composition. Furthermore, the effect of diet on nutritional profile is more profound in meat derived from monogastric animals. These kinds of meats are categorized as functional foods which are defined as foods with nutritional profiles that exceed conventional products (Decker and Park, 2010, Hur et al., 2007).

In recent years there has been a considerable increase in consumer concern with regard to how meat is produced. Concern about animal welfare has greatly increased around the world, and there has been an enormous development of the ‘organic’ rearing of animals. Consumers demand that animals are reared, transported and slaughtered under humane conditions. Also, consumers want to be confident that the meat they purchase is derived from ethically robust production systems. Consequently, farmers, veterinarians, packers and scientists need to become more knowledgeable on how to assess and audit animal welfare at the farm and slaughter plant (Grandin, 2010). It should be emphasized that the importance of traceability has increased in relation to RQT. Regulatory agencies in many countries have insisted on the implementation and application of traceability systems (Troy & Kerry, 2010).

4. Variation of meat quality traits
Attempts to identify common standards of fresh meat quality have been done for international trade across a number of countries. However consumers still have difficulty in accurately predicting quality by perception at the point of purchase (Glitsh, 2000). The eating quality and the assessment of beef from the same animals in eight countries in the EU have been investigated, and the results showed that consumer's preferences differ among countries (Dransfield et al., 1984). Irish and English panelists preferred flavor more than tenderness and juiciness, but Italian panelists tended to value tenderness more highly than flavor. Pethick, Warner, and Banks (2006) reported that consumers of lamb in Australia usually place the greatest weight on flavor/odor, followed by tenderness and finally juiciness. This is in contrast to consumers of beef who generally rate tenderness as the most important palatability trait (Moon, Yang, Park, & Joo, 2006). According to Warner et al. (2010), flavor has increased in importance for beef consumers as tenderness variation in meat has been reduced.

Assessment of meat freshness in quality control employing chemical techniques: A review
Numerous chemical and physical tests have been described which reflect the biochemical and other changes which occur in meat during storage. Although some work has occasionally included the correlation with organoleptic data, there have been few suggestions as to possible critical legal or control limits. In industrial control, however, each method has to be considered in relation to the purpose intended and semi-empirical tests may be of value provided that the procedure is standardised. Critical maxima based on chemical values have been recommended for white fish, which differs, however, from meat in having a negligible fat content. With meat, protein breakdown usually precedes fat spoilage, but in certain circumstances the order of these reactions is reversed. Recommended limits for meat should take into account both types of spoilage. The review concludes with suggestions for a coordinated programme of study which could help in clarifying some of the difficulties inherent in the application of meat spoilage research in industrial control.

Implementation of Chemometrics for Quality Control and Authentication of Meat and Meat Products
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Multivariate analysis has been established as a very powerful and effective tool in classifying and grouping individual products. Principal Component Analysis, Canonical analysis, Cluster and Partial Least Squares were found to be indispensable for classifying food products according to variety and/or geographical origin. Meat and meat products were correctly classified for authentication purposes to various groups following instrumental and/or sensory analyses.

Ensuring Food Safety in today’s day and age, is the most important and critical requirement of the Food industry, considering the increasing food-borne illness globally, with each passing year. With changing times, food safety is directly linked to promoting good health, nutrition, which would in turn ensure a healthy workforce along with a stable economic growth for manufacturers, suppliers, consumers, industry and ultimately the nation. Food Safety is a growing challenge for countries all over the world, and the pandemic that the world is facing today, throws light on how crucial it is, for the very existence of a healthy life and environment.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) releases a Food Safety index of States to measure the food safety on the basis of five parameters namely human resources and institutional data, compliance, food testing facility, training and capacity building besides consumer empowerment. This is to ensure states follow safe food practices and pay attention to nutrition and health.

Amidst its numerous challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic offers a serendipitous opportunity to strengthen India's food safety system. Food safety highlights the hygiene and sanitary requirements, management responsibilities and sector specific requirements to prevent the spread of COVID-19 across the food supply chain. Safe food and hygienic practices are the pillars for ensuring food safety, and also form a strong basis for minimizing people-to-people spread and cross-contamination of COVID-19 in food operations. Keeping this in mind, existing personal and food hygiene measures in India need to be audited and possibly strengthened if need be.

Industries processing grains, sugar, edible oils, beverages and dairy products are the major industries constituting the Food processing industry. The key sub-segments of the Food Processing industry include the Dairy, Fruits & Vegetables, Poultry & Meat processing, Fisheries, Food retail etc. Here, we talk about the meat industry specifically.

Top food safety challenges in Meat industry include -

Coping up with the constantly evolving food regulations.
Complying with the Food Industry safety standards.
Maintaining meat quality standards in the overall processes.
Maintaining meat quality assurance in the entire supply chain from breeding, processing, packaging to distribution.
Meeting consumer expectations equally every time.
Ensuring all the above mentioned requisites simultaneously, along with maintaining a balance between the supply and demand, is the biggest challenge for any meat industry to uphold its position in the market. Industries, who are able to adapt and improvise their food safety standards through implementation of modern, scientific methods can only sustain and triumph in the present industry

Meat and meat products are the major contributor for protein rich foods in the food industry. Along with this it is also understood that they are also the highest-risk category in the food industry. With consumers today, being more and more informed and concerned about the quality of food they purchase, meeting the ever-evolving meat quality standards has become implicit, throughout all other processes, in the entire supply chain. Meat manufacturers need to adopt new approaches, strategies and services to meet current compliance standards, and expedite their access to the meat market. A predominant approach to this involves meat quality assurance through effective meat quality testing and getting a meat safety certificate through the expertise provided by an internationally recognised meat quality testing service provider. We are a globally accredited meat quality testing and certification provider offering a wide array of analytical services for the testing of raw materials and semi-manufactured or finished meat products.

Meat quality assurance is a proactive and preventive approach to have quality control of meat and meat products. It helps to keep in check whether a safe, hygienic and clean environment is ensured during livestock breeding, processing, supply, transportation and storing. Meat quality assurance includes inspections, lab meat quality testing, audits, meat quality control and meat safety certification as per the guidelines and regulations of the destination market. Lab meat quality testing involves freshness control, grading the meat, tests to identify any residue, stability and shelf life. Meat quality testing is a part of meat quality assurance and they majorly ensure that safe, clean and good manufacturing practices are followed in the complete meat supply chain. Additionally, meat quality control includes tracking of the entire process, identifying if any deviations occur, verifying and maintaining a standard procedure. All these processes are done to eliminate, reduce or prevent food safety hazards. With timely quality testing of meat and meat products, a systematic verification as per regulations can be done, and corrective actions can be taken whenever there is a deviation from the set standards.

With increasing consumer demand for good quality, safe, ready to eat food products round the year, it is important to take a preventive approach to maintain the highest level of meat quality assurance to ensure a stronghold in the national and international market, thus increasing share in the meat trade including exports. Manufacturers must deploy production processes according to the principles of HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point), as well as ensure hygienic optimum conditions. HACCP Meat Quality Control Checks ensures conducting hazard analysis, pinpoint critical control points, and establish critical limits, monitoring procedures, establishing corrective actions, recordkeeping and verification of established procedures. All this coupled with safe and hygienic operating procedures will provide the highest level of meat quality assurance. A quality auditor or inspector when inspects, provides a meat safety certificate. This certification is recognised nationally or globally and provides brand recognition in respective markets. Meat safety certificate would help mitigate risk, save time and money, ensure better market access and inspire confidence in consumers and help grab a bigger market altogether.

Addressing food safety challenges is possible, only when the industry takes efforts to improve with changing trends and developments at the forefront of food safety and quality assurance as per regulations and adopting best practices to make food risk-free with the best use of scientific processes, safe for the overall environment. The key to addressing challenges is being informed, accepting change, adopting the evolving developments and implementing new processes with ever-changing and fast-growing times.

The first step towards having a successful business and establishing a brand name for your meat industry, is to have a scientific approach to ensure food safety. For this, you would need a robust quality assurance system and a good tie up with the best of the meat quality testing facility and meat safety certificate provider. We help meat industry suppliers, manufacturers and retailers to ensure that the meat and poultry in their supply chains is manufactured to high standards, stored and distributed under the right temperature conditions, and is compliant with local and international. Visit TÜV SÜD for more information related to food quality testing and food quality certification.

7 Stages of Quality Control Checks for Meat and Poultry
Posted by Mat Bedard on Mon, Aug 28, 2017 @ 09:08 AM
Ensuring the safety of meat products is critical for the food industry.Products of meat and poultry have often been connected to the occurrence of foodborne illnesses. These illnesses can be reduced by implementing the HACCP concept (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point). However, the FSIS has the overall oversight and authority for quality control checks in meat and poultry products that are intended for commercial distribution. Its main responsibility is to ensure that there is a wholesome production of meat and poultry products.

Therefore, all businesses that produce meat and poultry that is federally inspected should design and operate HACCP guidelines. The systems arising from these guidelines should be able to conduct scientific process controls that can be approved to effectively eliminate, reduce, or prevent food safety hazards.

The Seven HACCP Quality Control Checks for Meat and Poultry
1. Conducting a Hazard Analysis
A hazard is any chemical, biological, or physical cause that is likely to cause injuries or illness when not well controlled. This quality control check is important because it helps in developing hazards that may cause illness or harm when not controlled effectively. In the HACCP plan, it is important to consider the raw materials and other ingredients, storage and distribution, and use by a consumer.

The potential hazards are evaluated depending on their severity and their likely outcome. Severity considerations including impact, magnitude, and duration of injury or illness can help in understanding the health hazards to the public.

2. Pinpoint Critical Control Points
A CCP is important in eliminating or preventing food safety hazards. Potential hazards that can cause injury or illnesses if control is absent should be addressed by determining the CCPs. The information that is developed in the hazard analysis will be used by the HACCP team to identify CCPs in the process.

Some examples of CCPs include chilling, thermal processing, testing for chemical residues, testing products for contaminants, and product formulation. CCPs should be developed and also documented carefully. Additionally, they should be used for product safety purposes.

3.Establishing Critical Limits
HACCP methodologies help ensure that food production practices are safe and effective.When developing HACCP quality control checks, the next step involves establishing critical limits for all control points. The critical limits are arguments that help determine whether a control measure of the CCP is out of control.

The NACMCF (National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods) defines a critical limit as a maximum or minimum value where chemical, biological, or physical parameters can be controlled to reduce, prevent, or eliminate the occurrence of food safety hazards.

4.Establish Critical Control Point Monitoring Procedures
After CL is set for each and every CCP in the HACCP development plan, there are certain procedures that should be established to monitor CCPs and to help in determining whether critical limits are being met. Monitoring should assess whether the CCP is still under control and to provide a record that can be used in future.

Purpose of monitoring

Track control of the entire process
To identify when deviation occurs, and when there is loss of control
To provide a document for verification purposes

5.Establishing Corrective Actions
Corrective action should be determined for each CCP in cases where the CL hasn’t been met. Corrective actions used often depend on the type of process and type of food produced. In case there is any deviation from the CL, corrective action is required to prevent any hazardous food materials from being distributed to consumers.

Examples of Corrective Actions

Detecting and removing the cause of deviation
Keeping the CCP under control after taking the corrective action
Instituting measures that prevent recurrence
Making sure the affected produce isn’t shipped to consumers

6.Establishing Recordkeeping Procedures
When coming up with an HACCP plan, a firm should ensure that its system is effective in recordkeeping. This is because records are written evidence of the HACCP system. All the measurements and corrective actions that are taken should also be documented and filed.

These records can help to trace the history of the production of the finished product. In case there are any questions, the records can be used to determine whether the end product was safe for consumption.

7.Verification Procedures
HACCP systems of meat and poultry businesses should be systematically verified. There are four main verification principles used to verify HACCP systems as stated by the NACMCF. The verification process ensures that HACCP plans are implemented as planned. This process also confirms that the critical control points are accurate.

HACCP Cannot Survive Alone
In any food processing facility, the HACCP quality control checks cannot stand alone. Therefore, the HACCP plan should also use other food safety programs. Processing facilities that practice good manufacturing often support the HACCP plans and help in food quality and safety.

Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures are also necessary for meat and poultry operations that are federally operated. They address procedures for clean equipment, personnel, and facilities that are important for all products that are produced by a firm.

QC Tailored for the Meat and Poultry Industry
When it comes to food safety, raw meat and poultry are among the highest-risk categories, as evidenced by frequent recalls and safety scandals that impact even major brands. To comply with the stricter safety requirements, protect consumer health and uphold their brand reputation, meat and poultry manufacturers must guarantee the safety of their products at every stage: from farms and processing facilities to distribution centers and stores.

QIMA quality control and compliance services help brands and retailers ensure that the meat and poultry products in their supply chain are manufactured to their standards, stored and shipped under proper conditions, and comply with the regulations of their destination market.

We offer product inspections, supplier audits and certification to a number of internationally recognized food safety schemes, helping you secure your supply chain globally. Our product expertise covers all categories of meat and poultry, including:

Fresh, frozen, processed, cooked meats and poultry
Carcasses, cuts, fillets, organ meats, sausages
Beef, pork, lamb, veal
Chicken, duck, turkey
Game meat and birds
Meat and Poultry Inspection Expertise
QIMA offers a broad range of inspection services that provide you with accurate and reliable information about the quality and safety of your meat and poultry products. Our inspection protocols are prepared based on our extensive know-how, regulatory standards, and your in-house specifications. To ensure effective and objective sampling, we strictly follow the World Health Organization Food Code guidelines and sampling plans.

Solutions for Meat and Poultry Safety:
Freshness control using the Quality Index Method (QIM) and organoleptic checks (smell, look, texture)
Grading (A, B or C) based on meat and poultry quality
Process control with a glazed/deglazed test and drip loss test to prevent food fraud
Standard size control to ensure uniform production in terms of size and weight
Defectives check against international regulations, national standards, and your specifications
Meat and Poultry Audits
QIMA food supplier audits provide you with reliable information about the state of manufacturing and ethical compliance in your food supply chain. Our auditors will conduct an on-site check of your supplier’s facilities, including farms, ranches, slaughterhouses, cutting plants, game handling establishments, processing plants, and storage.

Hygiene audits (GHP) are designed to ensure that your food suppliers’ facilities abide to international regulations on hygiene.

Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) audits help you achieve GMP compliance and secure safety in your meat and poultry supply chain.

Ethical audits investigate your suppliers for social compliance, including working conditions and worker rights, helping you eliminate any instances of labor abuse from your meat and poultry supply chain.

Certification for Meat and Poultry
QIMA, through our subsidiary QIMA/WQS, can audit your processes and systems against the requirements of applicable standards to achieve certification under the following schemes:

HACCP (Hazard analysis and critical control points)
GFSI approved schemes:
BRC Global Standards
Animal welfare certification
Cage Free Certification
Antibiotic Free Certification

Importance of Quality Control in the Raw Beef Industry

Raw beef contamination is a worldwide public health concern. Every year, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) outbreaks are associated with the consumption of contaminated beef products across the globe. Salmonella and Listeria are also two main pathogens of increasing concern in the beef industry.
Besides pathogens, Quality Indicators (QI) are usually harmless bacterial populations that are monitored to ensure that the beef quality is maintained all along the process and during shelf life.
Spoilage microflora, making food undesirable or unfit for human consumption, is also to consider for beef meat products.
Beef quality — via systematic and accurate microbial testing and prevention — is vital to protecting overall public health and preventing outbreaks, prevent costly recalls, and avoid damage on Beef brands.

Raw Beef Regulators

In many aspects, the intensification of farming systems, and the integration of beef companies from farm to fork, has reduced the likelihood of human infections through the consumption of meat products. At the same time, it has also increased the consequences of any contamination at different levels of the process. Contamination events have become less frequent but are far more severe.
To curb food contamination and to protect the end consumers, agencies—such as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)—guide and regulate the processors, wholesalers, and retailers through a consistent inspection regime.

In the European Union, the EFSA’s Panel on biological hazards provides independent scientific advice on food safety and foodborne diseases and partners with the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) to offer scientific evaluation and recommendations to the EU legislative and executive institutions (Commission, Council, and Parliament), along with the EU Member States.

In the US, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the primary agency responsible for regulating beef meat inspections and grading. Safety inspections are mandatory in meat-packing and meat-processing plants. FSIS inspects all meat products sold in interstate commerce and controls imported products to ensure that they meet U.S. food safety standards.

In addition, the implementation of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) has improved food safety by applying scientific principles to prevent meat contamination, especially giving strong focus on pathogenic bacteria awareness. HACCP specifies the hazards, shows their likely location, calls attention to the critical control points, and provides the guidance to take the appropriate action to manage the process. Companies are vigorously carrying out these principles to help ensure safe beef products, from raw material production, procurement and handling, to manufacturing, distribution, and consumption of the finished product.

Common Raw Beef Pathogens

The most common pathogenic bacteria found in raw beef is Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC). In particular, the O157:H7 strain is a rare but dangerous bacterium that can cause severe damage to the intestinal lining and ultimately a highly fatal clinical outcome in form of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS).
Other common pathogens in raw beef include: non-O157 STEC, Salmonella spp, Staphylococcus aureus, and Listeria monocytogenes.

What is the difference between Spoilers and Quality Indicators (QI) ?

Meat quality is a complex set of parameters to appreciate before purchasing, eating, or selecting raw meat for processing. Meat spoilage is a metabolic process resulting in the change of sensory.
Quality Indicators are micro-organisms whose presence in beef meat at certain levels is monitored to assess hygienic quality of the product, or to predict product shelf life. The most common QI in beef are Total Viable Count, E. coli count, Coliforms, Yeasts & Molds and Lactic Acid Bacteria count.
Spoilers are specific micro-organisms that will grow in meat and cause oxidation or enzymatic autolysis in the product. Many different species such as Pseudomonas spp, Shewanella spp, Brochothrix thermosphacta, Clostridium spp, Lactobacillus spp, and Yeasts & molds can spoil beef products.

Microbial growth occurs in optimal water, oxygen, and temperature conditions.
Combating foodborne illness from the beef production at farm to slaughterhouse to processing facility to retailer, involves prevention and testing.

Prevention starts with adhering to cold-chain guidelines, in order to limit microbial growth.

Next, raw beef enters specified intervention steps. To begin with, before the product is hand-cut into prime cuts and trims, a lactic acid sprays is used to stave off the microbes on the raw beef surfaces. Furthermore, the raw beef is tested for common quality indicators such as E. coli or coliforms before moving to the next step or, promptly, once it is delivered to the further processor.

Moving down the production line, the raw beef then moves to the further processing, where it is hand-cut, trimmed, portioned (premium cuts like ribeye, New York strip), and vacuum-packed for the retailers, wholesalers, and the restaurants. These plants often employ: (1) a nightly sanitation crew to spray down and wash down all equipment with approved anti-microbial reagents, and (2) a Quality Assurance team to swab equipment, surfaces, and drains for typically an off-site third-party lab evaluation.

Once a wholesaler, retailer or restaurant receives the product, time and temperature is of the essence. Again, adhering to the cold-chain aids is critical in containing microorganism growth and preventing spoilage growth. Consistent vigilance including detection should continue until the beef is purchased, prepared, cooked, or consumed.

Technologies such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR), traditional or automated microbiology, are a few methods to detect and identify specific bacteria that lead to meat contamination by pathogens or spoilage.
PCR is a method that amplifies small pieces of DNA to generate thousands to millions of copies of a DNA sequence.
Automated microbiology enables a precise, reliable and reproducible count of diverse QI. It can also be used to detect the lowest quantity of pathogens after enrichment.