Although many retailers already display the tenderness of meat cuts on their packaging, Norwegian research group SINTEF has developed what it believes is a better system. Instead of relying on human interpretations of tenderness, it uses x-rays to give a less subjective and more accurate rating.
The system works by emitting different levels of low-energy x-rays into the meat. By analyzing if the rays are absorbed by the meat, if they make it all the way through or are scattered, it's possible to determine factors such as muscle fiber density and water bonding.
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Norwegian tech company Tomra has created a prototype device utilizing the technology. It can grade meat tenderness on a scale of 1 to 4, plus it's also able to detect the presence of impurities such as "unwanted plastic objects." It's currently still in the testing phase.
Ultimately, SINTEF hopes that the technology will both provide customers with a guarantee of tenderness, and allow stores to charge more for premium cuts because of that guarantee.
Previous research conducted at Canada's McGill University determined that the quality of pork could be assessed by subjecting it to visible and near-infrared light.