Processing

Red meat R&D: What’s in the box? Technology driving label verification

Beef Central, 05/05/2022

WELCOME to the regular series of articles focusing on red meat R&D, presented by Beef Central and the Australian Meat Processor Corporation. These items highlight a range of projects designed to enhance the efficiency, productivity, product quality and safety of Australian red meat sold into the domestic market and around the world.

All have the ability to help underpin Australia’s unrivalled reputation as the world’s premier export of quality beef, lamb and offal. Links to previous articles in the series appear below.

 

 

THE Australian Meat Processor Corporation is managing research into label verification which is a key part of AMPC’s strategic plan.

One of the plan’s strategic aspirations is that by 2030, Australia is the preferred trading partner for premium red meat products globally, with unrivalled access to high value markets.

The label verification research is looking at various technologies available to verify the contents of a carton of meat with the label on the outside of the box. Using technology to do this takes out the potential for human error and ensures accuracy.

Traceability of meat through a processing plant is extremely important for export purposes. The trade implications for processors if the labels do not match mean that the plant can be de-listed for exporting to the country concerned.

AMPC’s research program for label verification is helping processors find more efficient ways of matching box contents with box labels through technology.

The program includes a project looking at the use of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags, embedding a tag within the carton itself, with a similar tag on the cuts of meat inside the box.

Another project is working with artificial intelligence to take photos of cuts of meat within a carton and then ensuring it matches up with the wording on the label on the outside of the carton.

A trial was conducted last year which identified six cuts of meat in one processing plant and matched them correctly to their box labels. A new trial is about to begin that will match 20 cuts of meat with their box labels at two processing plants.

AMPC program manager Ann McDonald said the trial would compare several pieces of technology that are already commercially available, which can be adapted for this work. The project will include looking at the cost of each.

The preferred solution will be used for this new trial.

The trial will also take a step back along the packing process and will look at using the camera and AI technology to assist workers to identify the correct cuts to go into each carton.

Once this project has been completed, further work could include the automatic generation of labels once the camera/AI has verified the cut of meat in the box.

“This is a great initiative to address label verification which can have a significant impact on market access,” Ms McDonald said.

“AMPC has two quite different options for processing plants to choose from and what fits best with their operation. Both solutions have the potential for commercialisation in the future.”

 

Previous articles in this series:

 

 

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