Interactive, a US-based company that holds the rights to light based scanners used to inspect meat for microbial contamination, is increasing production of its small, hand-held version of the scanners.
The increase in production is due to an order for 17 devices, placed by Excel, a Kansas beef-processing company that is a subsidiary of Cargill.
Excel is also set to build a 900-square-foot addition to one of its plants, where the first of the full-sized scanners will be commercially tested.
Known as VerifEYE, the machines were developed by the Agricultural Research Service and Iowa State University. The research was carried out at ARS' Pre-harvest Food Safety and Enteric Diseases Unit, which is part of the agency's National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa.
ARS is the US Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.
The instruments use specific wavelengths, or colours, of light to illuminatecarcasses. The reflected light is analysed electronically to determine if contaminants such as fecal matter are present.
The new development represents another step toward getting the devices tomarket, according to Mark Rasmussen, the ARS unit's research leader whodeveloped the technology with ARS microbiologist Tom Casey, also at Ames.
The hand-held devices, which are about the size of a compact video camera, will be used for online and spot inspections. Initial testing will determine their best use.
Meanwhile, testing of the full-sized machine will take place in a new addition to Excel's plant in Nebraska Construction is set to begin next month, and installation of the device is scheduled for November. The machine will examine carcasses as they are conveyed across the scanners' sights. Contaminated carcasses can be removed from the line and decontaminated before entering the food chain.