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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Quality and Safety Assessment Research Unit

2011 Annual Report

1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
Develop, test, and prototype rapid optical systems and methods to detect food contaminants, particularly contaminants found in the poultry industry such as fecal contaminants on poultry carcasses. Develop optical systems to detect intentional and unintentional biological, physical, and chemical contamination of food products.

1b.Approach (from AD-416)
A real-time on-line fecal detection system, which consists of a multispectral imaging camera, lighting, and detection algorithm, will be prototyped. Multispectral and hyperspectral imaging systems will be used to identify physical hazards in poultry meat. Hyperspectral imaging in transmission mode will be used with structured lighting to identify embedded bones in breast filets. Hyperspectral imaging will also be used with white and brown shell eggs to identify both internal defects such as blood spots, meat spots, and bacterial contamination, and external defects such as fecal matter on shells and cracked shells. Hyperspectral imaging systems will be also be used to identify bacterial and chemical agents in meat and meat products. Collaboration with ARS Instrumentation and Sensing Laboratory, BARC, FSIS, and the University of Georgia Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department will be used to aid and enhance the research.

3.Progress Report
High-Speed Hyperspectral Imaging. A common imaging platform was developed in collaboration with industrial partners for rapid sorting of poultry carcasses with systemic disease or surface fecal contaminants. The common imaging platform contains a hyperspectral imaging instrument customized for poultry inspection and configured as a multispectral imaging instrument. The in-house application software for fecal detection was expanded to add an image analysis module for disease detection. The developed imaging system was tested and implemented with an emphasis on real-time imaging and online detection of unwholesome or contaminated birds.

1. Prototype high-speed poultry safety inspection system. The poultry industry is concerned with the potential of both diseased and fecal contaminated chicken carcasses causing food safety issues. To address these concerns, a real-time, high-speed imaging system, capable of operating at processing line speeds, was completed and prototyped. The system is able to switch between detecting diseased poultry carcasses or carcasses contaminated with feces simply with the click of a mouse. The system has the potential to increase the safety of our poultry products and enhance markets by reducing the overhead needed to inspect poultry paws (feet).

2. Egg micro-crack system developed and patented. USDA Agricultural Marketing Service graders are having trouble detecting fresh hairline cracks in shell eggs from inline processing plants. A vacuum-assisted imaging system was developed to detect these hairline cracks and other grading attributes. The system can inspect 20 eggs at a time; uses cooler, more efficient light emitting diodes (LED) lights; has been automated to include automatic rollers; a case light; extremely accurate detection software; a database to help the graders track the egg quality. The system was just awarded both U.S. and international patents and discussions are ongoing with potential commercial partners.

Last Modified: 4/23/2014
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