Magazine story about the research.
WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 Three Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in Clay Center, Neb., have won a technology transfer award for an image analysis system that more accurately grades beef carcass yields.
The scientists were honored yesterday during a ceremony at USDA headquarters here. ARS is the U.S. Department of Agricultures chief scientific research agency.
Animal physiologist Mohammad Koohmaraie and food technologists Steven D. Shackelford and Tommy L. Wheeler won the agencys award for Superior Effort in Technology Transfer in 2004. They work at the ARS Roman L. Hruska U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) in Clay Center.
The system they developed takes an image of the ribeye of the beef carcass and uses the amounts of lean meat and fat that are present to predict the percentage of the carcass that can be sold as retail cuts. Their systems predictions are more accurate than the assessments by human meat graders.
The group was honored for transferring their invention from the lab to beef packing plants. Industry-wide adoption of this system will allow producers to compare marketing bids between packers without concern for different methods the plants use to assess carcass leanness. The system is expected to save the meat industry $15 million annually.
The MARC beef carcass image analysis system allows beef packers to objectively determine the yield of a carcass and pay producers appropriately. Previously, packers had to rely on the human eye to identify the yield grade of beef.
Koohmaraie, Shackelford and Wheeler have won USDA performance awards in 2000, 2002 and 2003, in addition to other awards.