Tough chicken meat ‘a big issue’ for industry

By Oscar Rousseau contact

- Last updated on GMT

Many chickens around the world are developing harder breasts
Many chickens around the world are developing harder breasts
Fast-growing broiler chickens are developing wooden breast syndrome that’s making meat tough and chewy in what has become a growing problem for the poultry sector.

A quarter of white-feathered broiler birds processed in the US may suffer from wooden breast syndrome, according to US researchers. Even in Europe, which has smaller birds, around 7% of the chickens are producing hard breast meat and experts fear the problem could lead to economic losses.

Woody breast is “a big issue,​” Thorsten Niermeyer, business unit manager of Process Analytics at Norwegian firm Tomra told this site. Niermeyer said the problem has dominated discussion at poultry conferences all over the world that he’s attended.

Meat processors tend not to share internal statistics on the issue, but a presentation by University of Arkansas researchers suggest 25% of US birds suffer from the problem.

Tomra has launched a machine to check for wooden breasts
Tomra has launched a machine to check for wooden breasts

New machine detects wooden breasts
 
To combat the problem, Tomra has launched what it claims to be “the world’s first​” detection machine that can identify chicken wooden breast.
 
The Tomra QV-P is an in-line detector that allows meat processors to accurately grade chicken fillets, potentially cutting throughput as the industry currently uses manual checks of each chicken fillet.
 
Our in-line equipment is able to measure the chemical composition of each fillet and determine the respective grade,​” said Niermeyer in a statement on the machine.

This information is vital for processors to decide on the use of chicken fillets for further processing.​”

Hitherto, meat processors had to manually check each chicken fillet before processing in what is called a “thumb check,” added Niermeyer, who said the machine cuts out “time-consuming, labor-intensive, manual checks.​”

The machine uses multispectral lights to analyse the chicken breasts.

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