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The challenge

Achieving meat tenderness

Tenderness is a highly desirable quality in meat and a strong contributor to market price. Consequently, the industry has developed techniques to improve the tenderness of low-value muscles and the consistency of premium cuts. Tenderness, however, is a very complex trait and very difficult to guarantee in commercial supply chains. Therefore, enhancement of tenderness is still a challenge for the red meat industry and developing novel interventions would greatly contribute to increased revenue and profitability, as well as higher customer satisfaction.

Our response

Shockwave - a disruptive technology

CSIRO's shockwave unit - the first commercial-scale unit outside of Germany

'Shockwave' is an exciting new mechanical and non-invasive processing technology which can improve meat tenderness. In mid-2017, CSIRO's food innovation centre acquired Australia's first shockwave equipment for use in food processing and the first commercial-scale unit outside Germany. To allow product differentiation through this new process capability, shockwave will need to be customised before it is ready for use in the red meat industry. CSIRO believes that this innovative new technology will be able to provide significant competitive advantages to Australian meat processors.

A shockwave is a mechanical pressure pulse. It can be generated either by detonating explosives (the first systems developed during the 90s) or discharging electrical currents under water (current second generation). Shockwaves transmit through water and any medium which is an acoustic match with water. At points where material properties differs, mechanical stress occurs, which in turn will cause tearing and disruption of the material exposed to the shockwave.

The results

Potential food applications

The most promising application of shockwave in the early stages of the technology is tenderisation of meat and fish. Others include:

  • disintegration of tissue and modification of the structure of any biological material
  • enhanced extraction of bioactives from plant materials
  • structure modification of grains to improve milling yield.

Shows packaged steak moving down a conveyor belt into a bed of water. There is a series of loud bangs as the packages continue through the water.
Shockwave: a new food processing technology

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We are looking for partnerships within academia and industry to develop applications that benefit the Australian agriculture and food industry. Initially, we are going to optimise the application for beef tenderisation.

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