A novel fiber optic sensor to monitor beef meat emulsion stability using visible light scattering

D. Álvarez, M. Castillo, F. A. Payne, Y. L. Xiong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Accurate control of the meat emulsification process for a consistent product quality entails the development of an on-line optical sensor technology to determine the optimum chopping end-point yielding minimum cooking loss and a fine texture. Previous studies suggested that light backscatter measurements can be used to monitor physical-chemical changes during emulsification in comminuted meat products if appropriate spacing between the emitting and detecting optical fibers is used. Light backscatter intensity from beef emulsions manufactured with different fat/lean ratio (0.075, 0.250, and 0.330) and chopping duration (2, 5, and 8 min) were obtained using a dedicated fiber optic prototype. Optical measurements were collected at three radial distances (2, 2.5, and 3 mm) from the light source using a fiber optic spectrometer (300-1100 nm). Light backscatter intensity decreased logarithmically with increasing fiber optic spacing. Light propagation through the emulsion decreased significantly with increasing chopping duration and fat concentration. Cooking loss increased with increasing fat/lean ratio and with under- or over-chopping. The maximum emulsion stability was observed at 5 min of chopping. Several optically derived parameters were found to be significantly correlated with fat loss during cooking. Typically, those correlations were observed to increase with decreasing fiber distance. Based on these findings, an optical configuration is proposed that would compensate for the emulsion heterogeneity, maximizing the existing correlation between the optical signal and the emulsion quality metrics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)456-466
Number of pages11
JournalMeat Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank the Séneca Foundation (Ministry of Education and Culture. Murcia Region, Spain) and the Kentucky Science and Engineering Foundation (University of Kentucky, USA) for the financial support of the research projects “Applying optical sensor technologies for determining meat emulsion stability” and “Development of an optical backscatter sensor technology for monitoring and controlling meat emulsification during the chopping process”.


  • Beef meat
  • Chopping process
  • Emulsification
  • Fat/lean ratio
  • Fiber optic
  • Light backscatter
  • Monitoring
  • Sensor technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science


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