Camera technology in meat grading

Camera technology in meat grading

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Technology in action: VBG2000 cameras in action during the validation trials at the Teys Australia Wagga Wagga plant. Photo: Teys Australia

Technology in action: VBG2000 cameras in action during the validation trials at the Teys Australia Wagga Wagga plant. Photo: Teys Australia

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Commercial application of eating quality grading technology

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Trials of the latest meat grading technology at the Teys Australia beef processing plant in Wagga Wagga have been successful, with over 1400 carcases graded as part of the original trial and validation work.

The useof the VGB2000 camera to determine eating quality based on various measurements from the rib eye was originally developed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) with the technology commercialized by German computer visioning company E+V Technology.

Although it is widely accepted in the USA, it is not yet fully approved for commercial use in Australia.

Jasmine Green, Teys Livestock - Strategic Operations told the Intercollegiate Meat Judging webinar several trials have been developed to collect data and train the camera technology to ensure the output is actually relevant for grading under Australian conditions.

"The trials are ensuring the correct grading score is recorded but are also testing the accuracy and repeatability of the cameras," she said.

"We had to convert the cameras to deliver the grade under the AUS-MEAT and MSA standard definitions."

Between those different collection points, Ms Green said over 50,000 different data points have been collected.

"There is quite a lot of information to go through to validate and check and the output of the cameras is accurate," she said.

"We also check the camera is giving the same result each time by taking an image of the carcass, removing it and then placing the camera on the carcass a second time so it gives the same outcome.

Several studies have been conducted with multiple cameras all imaging the same carcass to make sure there is consistency across the output of each of those cameras. The results from all of the grading cameras are then matched against those from the independent graders and Ms Green said all of the data collected was provided to an independent statistician for analysis.

"Once we were happy the cameras could provide the correct AUS-MEAT and MSA outputs, all of the data was provided to the Australian Meat Industry Language and Standards committee for review," she said.

Process of validating camera

Jasmine Green, Teys Livestock, Wagga Wagga said the Wagga Wagga plant has undergone a desk top and site verification audit conducted by AUS-MEAT.

"AUS-MEAT also audited our training records, and making sure we have a standardized process for the training of the camera operators and the calibration process each day making sure the camera is functioning properly," she said.

"Validation is quite a lengthy process and there are multiple checks and balances along the way to help ensure the technology is actually suitable for the application, is accurate and has repeatability.

"There are a number of built-in checks in the system and warnings for the operator to let them know if the image captured could be compromised."

The camera has conditional approval for AUS-MEAT and MSA marbling, meat colour and fat colour, with a final validation trial to be conducted once COVID restrictions are eased.

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