Carcase moisture loss after slaughter is being reduced by up to 1.5 percent using new JetSpray humidifier technology developed by JS Humidifiers and abattoir equipment fabricators and suppliers, GM Steel.
By maintaining a consistently high humidity in the chill-down area, the JetSpray technology has been able to reduce the moisture loss of a typical carcase from around 2.5pc to less than 1pc.
For an abattoir processing 2000 domestic-weight carcases per week and an average value cost of beef at $3.50/kg, the technology could increase profits by close to $1 million per year by preventing more than 270,000kg of carcase weight simply evaporating into the chiller atmosphere.
“A carcase coming from the slaughter floor is wet and warm,” GM Steel consultant Robert Ten Cate said. “When it is introduced to the chiller, the cold, dry air strips moisture from its exposed surface. The amount depends on the abattoir’s cooling technology, but it can be anywhere between 1.2pc and 2.5pc of total weight, and sometimes more.”
But by maintaining high humidity in the chill store with a JetSpray humidifier during the initial cooling process, moisture loss from the carcase is inhibited and can be reduced to less than 1pc, the company says.
“Independent testing has shown that by maintaining the optimum humidity during cooling, carcase weight loss is reduced without any condensation forming inside the chiller-room or on the meat. Humidification of the air does not introduce moisture to the surface of the carcase or increase microbial growth,” Mr Ten Cate said.
“In fact, client tests showed that the high humidity actually reduces microbial growth rather than promoting it. The higher humidity improves the conductivity of the air and consequently increased heat transfer from the carcase.”
Some installations had seen a significant reduction of their chill cycle to reach the required carcase core temperature. As the carcase temperature is reduced more rapidly, microbial growth is inhibited more rapidly.
Lower energy costs
In a processing and cold storage environment where energy costs are rapidly increasing, another significant benefit of a quicker cooling cycle is the reduction in energy consumption of the cooling system.
Some installations of the JetSpray technology had seen energy bills reduced by as much as 10pc when maintaining an optimum humidity in the chiller area due to improved heat transfer efficiency from the carcases, the company said.
The JetSpray humidifier consists of rows of precision-engineered nozzles that combine compressed air and water to produce a fine mist that has a droplet size of just 7.5 microns. The nozzle line is mounted directly in front of the evaporator coils of the refrigeration system and introduces moisture to the airstream as is enters the chiller.
The extremely fine spray ensures the moisture is absorbed by the atmosphere and prevents wetting inside the room. The flow of compressed air also avoids the possibility of drips. Tiny needles inside the nozzles act as a self-cleaning mechanism and prevent blockages making the system extremely robust, requiring very little maintenance.
The JetSpray humidifier has been developed with hygiene as a principal design factor making it ideal for use in food processing facilities. A reverse osmosis water filter removes all minerals from the supply water before it is treated with ultraviolet sterilisation to kill any remaining micro-organisms. In addition, the system will regularly run purge and flush cycles to ensure water cannot remain in the humidifier to stagnate.
- GM Steel is a supplier of equipment and services for abattoirs and processing plants with clients across the world. The company has completed abattoir projects in the beef and lamb industries in Australia, South America, the Middle East, South Africa and China. It offers consultancy and design through to fabrication and installation and has developed unique technologies to reduce labour, increase hygiene and save operational costs.
- JS Humidifiers is part of Condair, the world’s largest humidifier manufacturing group.