Boning technique offers possible savings

meat production plant stock image

Partial hot boning could mean more economical meat processing without compromising quality, according to WA researchers.

A team led by Cameron Jose from Murdoch University’s School of Health, Engineering and Education has been trialling ways to use the technique without sacrificing meat quality and tenderness.

The study, undertaken in conjunction with the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, tested a method of partial hot boning that, when teamed with optimised electrical stimulation, resulted in greater tenderisation without aging, compared to regular hot boning.

Their study also tested the impact of dry aging of hot-boned striploins, which resulted in further increases in tenderness at 28 days of aging compared to wet-aged product.

The concept of hot boning is that slaughtering, boning and packing of the meat is all done within one working day. It cuts processing time from slaughter to load out, requires less chilling space and lowers costs – particularly energy costs – as there is less chilling of fat and bone. It can increase boning yield, the warm meat is soft and requires less effort, and the technique eliminates hard fat problems.

However, it presents risks. There is potential for the meat to be tough, darker and for some primals to be different in shape.

In Australia, hot boning usually means boning carcases that have a deep butt temperature of more than 20°C, usually within 30 to 45 minutes of slaughter.

Removing muscles from the carcase soon after slaughter can toughen muscles that are tender when cold-boned, for example, tenderloin. However, it has been reported that hot boning delivers between 1.5 to 2 per cent more yield compared with conventional boning, due to less evaporation and more efficient removal of meat from the bones.

Dr Jose said: “Hot boning is considered to be a cost-effective processing technique, so any cost of implementation into the processing chain would soon be returned through the decrease in processing costs.”

He added: “One thing that we saw as a huge benefit was the improvement through dry ageing. If you couple the two processes together, one being cost-effective and one being an expensive process, it’s possible to maximise the profits through producing a premium product.”

He noted that the treatment produced favourable results in bos indicus cattle. “There are well-known to have poor tenderness development, so the improvements shown could be a means of producing a premium from bos indicus short loins,” he said.

“This technique will only be appropriate for plants currently hot boning. It would be about sparing the sweet cuts and trying to develop greater quality out of these, rather than grinding them.”

Other researchers involved in the project were Robin Jacob from the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, and Murdoch University’s Graham Gardner.