Adding value to your meat, seafood and poultry production
Specialised meat, poultry and seafood preparation equipment can help foodservice operators meet changing consumer demands and preferences.
Australia is one of the largest and most diverse food regions in the world, making it a popular market for foodservice operators. A booming agricultural industry, with some of the highest quality livestock of sheep, cattle, chicken and fish in the world, means that Australians have long had a love affair with meat, poultry and seafood products. The growing diversity of the local population, the popularity of reality TV cooking shows and technological advances in production automation have seen demand for meat, poultry and seafood increase in recent years.
As consumer tastes and preferences change, this provides a challenge to foodservice providers, as they need to be more proactive in their response to growing trends within their markets.
Convenience foods — ready-to-eat meals
Value-adding to meat products has and will continue be a much sought-after meat commodity, and one area that has shown growth is the area of prepackaged, fully cooked product primals or large meat cuts. Examples are bone-in beef products that have been marinated, slow-cooked, packaged and frozen so the customer only needs to heat the product for serving.
An important part of RTE meal production is in the finish of the product. Consumers would like the products they purchase from the supermarket to have the same grilled finish and visual enhancement as something they would cook at home. Many meat, seafood and poultry producers use branding and searing technology to give their products a finished look. They can give meat brown surfaces, apply grill marks and enhance foods with a just-grilled flavour and appearance.
Heat and Control’s Rotary Brander or combined Searer/Rotary Brander is suitable for applying an appetising, just-grilled finish to products such as meat, poultry, seafood, vegetables and bread. The gas-fired, open-flame Brander continuously imparts grill marks on the top, bottom or sides of meats, poultry, seafood and vegetables, and independent direct flame searing burners brown surfaces and add fresh-off-the-grill accents; they are actually grilled for authenticity, and no imitation caramel branding strips are applied. The Rotary Brander has a variable speed branding wheel, which adjusts to accommodate different product thicknesses and can be raised clear when branding is not required.
The Rotary Brander can be used in combination with a Direct Flame Searer, also available through Heat and Control. The searing section uses multiple height-adjustable burners to provide a variety of surface finishes, from chargrilled accents to overall browning.
Value-added processing technology in meat, seafood and poultry production
All processors are challenged to ensure their products are fully and safely cooked while maximising their yields and product quality. Equally challenging is the fact that the processor must identify what differentiates processing equipment and manufacturers that supply the further-processing industry.
For example, there are many ‘impingement ovens’ on the market, but the term ‘impingement’ is used rather loosely at times. A true impingement oven will have high-velocity airflow from both above and below the belt that is evenly distributed across the width of the belt and down the length of the oven. Achieving even or uniform temperature across the belt is where many impingement ovens fall short.
Heat and Control’s AirForce impingement oven cooks faster than comparable ovens because it quickly and evenly transfers heat across the full width of the product conveyor. Yields are also higher thanks to AirForce’s moisture-controlled heating system, the uniform cooking across the width and not overcooking product on one side of the oven.
A major poultry processor uses the AirForce oven to cook breaded breast fillets in just 1.8 minutes, compared to 4.5 minutes in a competitive impingement oven. Another processor’s AirForce oven cooks breast chunks in almost half the time required by another impingement oven.
AirForce also sets speed records for cleaning. With no inaccessible ductwork that harbours bacteria, thoroughly cleaning AirForce takes less time than other impingement ovens. Automated cleaning of individual oven zones is also available to further reduce clean-up time and the amount of cleaning chemicals used.
Processors can help themselves immensely if they take the time to look at competitive options and listen to and verify the performance claims and characteristics manufacturers present. Cost is always a major component in a purchase decision, but more often than not you will come out ahead if you first ensure the equipment you are considering can meet all process requirements, provide maximum versatility, ensure uniform cook of product regardless of where it is located on the belt, and is properly sized. Sometimes this will mean you pay more, but in the long run you will easily recoup the investment.
Using reliable and uniform breading and coating applications is another way meat, poultry and seafood processors can add value to their production lines. Customised or standard, breading application can accelerate productivity and trim the costs of maintenance and sanitation. The breading is the final finish of many prepared food products and visually can also be the largest coating component of the product, so the breading must have the appropriate textural, taste, mouthfeel and quality so as to align this product with desired consumer market.
The Heat and Control SureCoat Breading Applicator can uniformly apply predust, breading and flake coatings to meat, poultry and seafood products. The breading is quickly transferred by large-diameter, adjustable-speed augers. The top and bottom coating can be adjusted independently for good coverage of all product surfaces using flour or batter predust, granular and non-free-flowing breadings — even delicate Japanese crumb and flake coatings.
Inline continuous checking equipment has been further developed to ensure the integrity of the raw and finished product. Inspection equipment such as X-ray machines and metal detectors can be an invaluable tool for food processors to ensure their products are contaminant free and consistent in quality. These forms of inspection are growing in popularity with meat, poultry and seafood operators as they can guarantee product safety and integrity, while enhancing and improving methods and operations and ultimately helping the bottom line.
The Ishida X-ray (IX) series analyses the absorption of X-rays to detect foreign objects by density and type of material. This process improves detection of low-density objects, such as thin pieces of metal, glass, shell, bone and rubber, in overlapping products and those with irregular surfaces.
There are many ways in which meat, poultry and seafood processors can add value to their products. Keeping their production lines lean and using the most efficient processing and packaging technology will reduce downtime, boost speed of product output and increase yield. For more information on how Heat and Control can assist you with adding value to your meat, seafood and poultry operations, please contact Heat and Control at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.heatandcontrol.com.
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