1. Enhance commercial uses of poultry meat and egg quality by understanding intrinsic properties and developing rapid measurement or detection methods. 1A. Identify poultry muscle characteristics that define meat quality. 1B. Develop nondestructive imaging and spectroscopy methods to measure poultry meat and egg quality characteristics and defects. 2. Establish improved poultry meat product quality preservation through new commercial processing methods and innovative packaging technologies. 2A. Enable further processing of poultry meat products through marination processing methods and functional ingredients that enhance quality and sensory attributes. 2B. Develop active packaging materials and treatment systems with antimicrobial properties that preserve quality, extend shelf life, and/or reduce waste. 3. Design new commercial alternative protein feed formulations that improve poultry quality and value. 3A. Identify alternative meal components for poultry feed formulations. 3B. Develop spectroscopic methods to rapidly assess alternative feed meals. 4. Enable new commercial sensor-in-system flowing-grain microwave moisture and density meters for precision farming and yield monitoring. 5. Enable a portable, commercial microwave meter to create capacity for rapid grading in-shell almond and peanut by determining moisture content, meat content, and foreign material contents. 6. Enable new commercial microwave sensors for monitoring controlled drying of grains, peanuts and other seeds.
1A: To decipher poultry muscle properties that affect meat quality, changes in meat water holding capacity (WHC) during the first 24 h postmortem and throughout extended storage will be evaluated in broiler breast meat deboned at different times. Samples will be collected for biochemical and structural analyses to determine the mechanisms controlling WHC. The effects of the white striping and wooden breast conditions on breast meat quality, marination, and sensory attributes will be studied. 1B: To develop nondestructive methods to measure poultry meat, trials will be conducted to evaluate spectroscopy and imaging techniques for measuring WHC and breast meat abnormalities. For nondestructive imaging of egg quality, a modified pressure imaging system will be expanded to grade eggs for abnormal shell texture, blood and meat spots, air-cell depth, and yolk shadow. The system will be redesigned for online operation. 2A: The effects of natural ingredients on the functional, processing, and sensory attributes of further processed poultry meat products with reduced sodium and phosphate contents will be evaluated. 2B: To develop active packaging materials and treatment systems with antimicrobial properties that preserve meat quality and extend shelf life, optimal cold plasma based treatment conditions for microbial reduction, shelf-life extension, and sensory quality retention on different fresh poultry meat products will be identified and validated. Fresh poultry meat packaging types and treatment configurations will also be assessed. 3A: To identify alternative meal components for poultry feeds, industrial oilseed crops will be evaluated. A complete economic analysis will be performed to identify prospective replacements for soybean meal. 3B: To develop spectroscopic methods to rapidly assess alternative feed meals, correlation equations will be developed from the spectral libraries of alternative seed meals to enable on-line measurement. Chemometric methods will be used to classify substrates and provide quality assessments of feed formulations. 4: A microwave frequency (>3 GHz) commercial sensor, operating in free-space transmission and using dielectric-based algorithms for grain bulk density and moisture content determination, will be tested in dynamic (flowing) situations. A prototype sensor will then be developed with off-the shelf components for wheat, corn, and soybeans. 5: Prototype from 4 above will be adapted for rapid grading of in-shell almonds and peanuts by collecting initial dielectric data while varying nut density, moisture content, temperature, meat content, sample foreign material, and sensor frequency. These data will then be used for a new algorithm. 6: Prototype from 5 above will be incorporated into a quarter-scale drying system with temperature and humidity sensors to demonstrate real-time drying while optimizing drying time, energy, and product quality. Measurements on peanuts, cereal grains and oilseeds will be collected.
Various research projects were conducted to determine how the physical and chemical properties of chicken muscle influence meat quality attributes. Trials were conducted to investigate the effects of the woody breast (WB) condition on intra-muscle water distribution and water-holding capacity attributes in broiler breast fillets. The effects of the spaghetti meat myopathy on meat composition, protein functionality, postmortem proteolysis, and fresh meat quality attributes were investigated through a series of studies. Preliminary trials were conducted to determine the influence of deboning time and muscle shortening on the texture attributes of WB meat. New methods for measuring chicken meat quality attributes were also investigated. A multi-blade shear device was evaluated for its ability to distinguish the unique texture characteristics of WB meat. Trials were conducted to test the ability of hyperspectral microscope imaging and low-field nuclear magnetic resonance technologies for identifying unique characteristics in broiler breast meat exhibiting various myopathies. Research was conducted to evaluate the use of a deep learning algorithm for predicting the WB condition based on expressible fluid images. A wash-down grade computer vision system for rapid detection of WB condition via 2D imaging was constructed to protect all system components in the harsh environments of commercial poultry processing plants. Research was also conducted to evaluate a multi-sensor fusion technology simultaneously using a weight scale, 2D, and 3D image sensors to improve the classification performance for the WB condition. Research on further meat processing strategies to enhance product quality and utilization was conducted. Collaborative research trials were completed to determine the influence of the WB condition on the processing and final product quality attributes of blade-tenderized chicken breast meat, fresh chicken sausage, and chicken hotdogs. The impact of high-pressure processing on the meat quality of chicken breasts, thighs, and wings were evaluated through collaborative trials. Research on a cold-plasma based antimicrobial packaging system was continued. Trials were completed to determine the effects of the in-package ozone treatment on microbiological quality, pH, and color of ground chicken meat and the effects of a natural antioxidant rosemary extract on lipid oxidation in ground meat treated by the ozone treatment. Trials were also conducted to compare the effects of different antioxidants, including pine bark extract, pomegranate extract, grape seed extract, butylated hydroxytoluene, and carnosine on microbiological growth, pH, color, and lipid oxidation in ground chicken meat treated by the in-package ozone treatment. Research was conducted on microwave sensors to determine the bulk density and moisture content of grains in dynamic (flowing) situations. Simultaneous and instantaneous determination of moisture content and bulk density of flowing grain and seed is critical in many applications including on-combine sensing and for yield monitoring. A microwave sensor made from off-the-shelf components and operating at 5.8 gigahertz was assembled, tested, and calibrated for use on flowing wheat, corn, and soybeans. While the calibration was done on static samples, the validation was performed on flowing samples. For each material, 10-kg samples with different moisture contents were poured into a stainless-steel hopper and flowed through a PVC pipe at a rate that was controlled by changing the opening of an iris diaphragm-type valve at the bottom of the line. The dielectric properties of the flowing material were measured with two antennas placed at a distance of one wavelength from the material interfaces. Several algorithms were used to determine moisture content and bulk density from the measured dielectric properties. A user-friendly software system was developed to automate the measurements. Measurement were taken every 165 milliseconds while the material was flowing. Continuous measurements provided data which allowed for graphing of moisture content and bulk density in real time and data storage in dedicated files. The predicted moisture content for flowing wheat, corn, and soybeans was determined with standard errors of performance of less than 0.9% moisture (wet basis) and bulk density of less than 0.05 grams per cubic centimeter. Research was conducted to use microwave sensors for rapid grading of in-shell almonds and peanuts. Grading of almonds and peanuts is a tedious process that involves several steps before determining moisture content, foreign material content, and meat content. It would be very useful to design a multiparameter sensor that can determine all of these entities without having to shell or clean the almond/peanut sample. Several microwave sensor prototypes, made with commercially available components, except for the antennas and sample holder, were assembled, tested, and calibrated for peanuts and almonds. The sensor prototypes operated at 5.8 gigahertz and 9.6 gigahertz and used the free-space transmission measurement principle for measurement of the dielectric properties. While these prototypes mimic the measurements with the expensive vector network analyzer, their cost was a tiny fraction of the latter and made them attractive for widespread use by growers, processors, and inspectors. Because the antennas are critical for accurate measurement of the dielectric properties, from which the physical properties of interest are determined, COMSOL (commercial modeling software) simulations were performed to determine which type antennas are most suitable. For measurements in the near-field, Yagi-Uda printed antennas were found to be most efficient in terms of radiation and interaction with the material being tested. In addition, they are low cost and have a small footprint. Since we are dealing with materials of randomly oriented pods and randomly distributed foreign materials, the sample holder was selected to be of cubical shape to allow measurements in different directions. For moisture and foreign material prediction, measurements in all 6 directions were averaged. Three sensor prototypes were calibrated and tested for peanuts. The first, operating at 9.6 gigahertz, has a sample holder for a 1700-g sample and allowed simultaneous determination of moisture content and foreign material. Measurements in different directions provided moisture content with standard errors of performance between 0.37% and 0.53% and foreign material content with standard errors of performance between 1.58% and 2.2%. The second sensor prototype, operating at 9.6 gigahertz, has a sample holder with a 170-g capacity and allowed moisture content prediction with standard errors of performance between 0.55% and 0.75% for sample temperatures between 5°C and 45°C. The third sensor prototype, operating at 5.8 gigahertz, has a sample holder with a 170-g capacity and allowed in-shell kernel moisture determination with a standard error of calibration of 0.45% from measurement of dielectric properties at 23°C. For all three prototypes, user-friendly software was developed for performing the measurements. Research was conducted to test microwave sensors in drying systems. Grain, seed, and peanut drying operations are large scale operations involving a considerable amount of energy and are often subject to human interaction to determine the progress of the drying process. Microwave sensors can be used for real-time monitoring and control of the drying process. Two laboratory-scale systems were designed and tested for peanuts, grain, and seed. The peanut drying system mimics a tractor-trailer drying system, holds approximately 82 kg of unshelled peanuts and has three temperature sensors (monitoring temperature of exhaust air, the peanuts near the microwave moisture sensor, and the air plenum), two relative humidity sensors (monitoring relative humidity of the exhaust air and air in the plenum), and a microwave sensor for real-time determination of moisture content of peanut pods and peanut kernels. A computer program was written to facilitate the data acquisition from the seven sensors, automatically control the dryer, and display and store the results during the drying process in real-time. The grain drying system mimics a grain bin, holds approximately 110-125 kg and has twelve sensors for temperature and relative humidity measurement at different heights. The microwave moisture sensor was placed at mid height in the material to provide moisture content while the product was drying. The system was calibrated for measurements on wheat, corn, and soybeans. It also has original software to acquire data from the 13 sensors, control the dryer, and display and store results in real-time. Real-time monitoring of the drying process by both systems prevented over-drying and provided a mechanism to suspend drying when deemed not beneficial, resulting in significant savings in energy cost.
1. Novel microwave sensor for simultaneous determination of foreign material and moisture content in uncleaned unshelled peanuts. During the grading of peanuts, inspectors determine the peanut kernel moisture content and the foreign material content after a tedious and lengthy process. ARS researchers in Athens, Georgia, developed a microwave sensor operating at 9.6 gigahertz to instantaneously and nondestructively provide in-shell kernel moisture content and foreign material content from a single microwave measurement. A sensor prototype will be tested in the field during the next peanut harvest season at a buying point in Georgia. Use of this microwave sensor will allow the inspectors to make fast decisions on whether to send the trailer load for further cleaning, if the foreign material is above the acceptable level, and/or send it for drying, if the in-shell moisture content is above 10.49%. This will result in significant savings in labor and energy costs and will provide a tool for consistently providing better-quality peanuts. The Georgia Federal-State Shipping Point Inspection Service, Inc. has licensed two of our patents (US Patent No 6,691,563 and U.S. Patent No. 8,629,681) and they are actively looking for a manufacturer to build a commercial microwave sensor that can be used routinely at peanut buying points.
2. Product utilization strategies for chicken breast meat with the woody breast myopathy. Poultry processors often downgrade or even discard chicken breast meat afflicted with the woody breast condition, which results in substantial financial losses. Through a series of studies, ARS researchers in Athens, Georgia, demonstrated that including woody breast meat in comminuted meat products is an effective strategy for enhancing product utilization. Results showed that woody breast meat can be included as raw materials in fresh chicken sausage products and chicken frankfurters at levels as high as 25-50% with no effect on processing or final product quality traits. These findings demonstrate that financial losses due to the woody breast myopathy can be effectively minimized by utilizing the affected breast meat in further processed meat products.
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