Scientists Harness Ultrasound to Measure Marbling in Pork

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 2123. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.
calendar icon 27 April 2006
clock icon 3 minute read

Farm-Scape, Episode 2123

Researchers in Manitoba are attempting to harness the power of ultrasound to provide a live animal assessment of the amount of marbling in pork.

Scientists with the Brandon based Swine Research and Development Corporation have found marbling results in a distinct pattern in an ultrasound image.

Dr. Bob McKay says ultrasound can show whether or not there is marbling in the meat and now scientists want to quantify how much there is.

"We ultrasound them just before we ship them for slaughter.

We ultrasound the carcass within 45 minutes of slaughter and then we come in the next day after an 18 hour chill, split that carcass, cut that last four ribs of the loin so that we're probing right at the grade site and then we scan that half loin into the computer for evaluation then we take that half piece of loin off the four ribs and send it away for chemical fat.

What we're trying to do is tie the live animal to the carcass scan to what we see visually and chemically.

If, for example, we're probing somebody who is producing breeding boars it would be great if we could walk in there and say, all right this boar has a large amount of marbling or a medium amount of marbling or a small amount or no marbling so that we can have boars, depending on your needs, that can help out a herd.

If a herd has no marbling, then you want a boar that has lots of marbling.

From a packing plant stand point, if they can sort carcasses instantaneously once they're killed as to which one has marbling and which one has enough marbling to meet a specific market, it means that cutting becomes far more efficient and then you don't have to cut a loin for example to check to see if there's marbling because, once you cut a loin, it's really no good for an export market."

Dr. McKay is confident, if this process works out, it will revolutionize the selection of breeding stock as well as the ability of packing plants to target specific product to specific markets.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

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