Meat Fatmeter FAQ’s
Can it be used on LIVE Fish or Mammals ?
YES…because it is NON-INVASIVE and harmless. The Meat Fatmeter can be used on small LIVE Mammals such as…Chickens, Rabbit and other similar sized animals.
Can samples be used after testing?
YES…because the Distell Fatmeter is NON-DESTRUCTIVE, you can measure the same sample again and again if necessary, without affecting the quality of the meat.
Can the MEASUREMENT DATA be electronically stored for later use?
YES… The Distell Fatmeter has a memory facility which will store up to 1,000 sets of measurements. These reading can be downloaded into your computer at any time, using our Data Management Software. This Software is supplied as standard, when you purchase a Fatmeter.
Can we use the Fatmeter to measure processed Meats, even although the Fatmeter is not specifically calibrated for that product ?
Yes, you can…let us explain…there are TWO categories of meat calibrations:
Calibrations for Meats in the natural state
Pork, Poultry, Beef, Lamb, Reindeer, Venison, Horse & Pony, etc. The natural meat calibrations are universal, and do not change significantly around the world. The one set of calibrations are sufficient.
Calibrations for Processed Meats
Artificially changed from the natural state, eg. Hamburger, Beefburger, Sausage, Salami, MRM Meats, etc.
The processed meats are different. Everyone has their own individual recipes, with varying amount of spices, fillings, added water, binding agents, and other food additives. Therefore it is not possible to produce a universal calibration for each type of processed food product. All we can do is create a General Product Calibration by taking an average of different manufacturers samples, and combining the data. The accuracy achieved using the Fatmeter will vary between individual companies, depending on the type and quantity of food additives combined with the Natural Meats.
Distell can, of course, carry out a specific product calibration for a specific recipe, and thus monitor accurately the fat content variances encountered. However, when you consider that any one processor may have up to 300 different recipes, then it becomes impractical to carry out individual recipe calibrations…especially if we were to charge for each recipe required. .
The answer is simply to use a General Product Calibration..such as… General Sausage. The operator can then log all of the results achieved using the Fatmeter on that particular product mix for perhaps the first 1-2 weeks, then carry out a series of laboratory analysis on the samples. This will allow the creation of a graphed “Table-of-Error”, such as the charts shown below. Very quickly, the company / operator can monitor the specification of the product, by allowing for this “error factor”.
Of course, it is necessary to compile a reasonable number of data samples, preferably reflecting the extremes normally encountered for that product…from the very low fat content, to the very high fat content levels. This will ensure a good spread, and allow a clear picture of trends.
Thereafter, the Fatmeter can be used to accurately monitor the day-to-day quality and uniformity of that product, and allow rapid reaction, where product variances are encountered. This procedure can be adopted for most of the companies processed products.
The clear message is…
- The Fatmeter does not necessarily have to contain a dedicated calibration for each and every processed product. Simply build up a library of ” Error Tables” for each product, and apply the error factor accordingly.
- The Fatmeter is a quality monitoring tool, giving the operator the ability to check one days’ production against the next day. If the results are the same…day-to-day, then the specification is correct…if there is a variance from one day to the next, then this will be clearly highlighted and allow for investigation at an early stage.
- Where there is a requirement for a dedicated, truly accurate calibration for a processed product, Distell can prepare an accurate calibration for that product.
Do I have to calibrate separately for different temperature ranges? I need to do measurements at the temperature of 5º C but also at 40º C.
The Fatmeter operates by measuring the amount of water present in the sample, and using calibration algorithms, calculating the fat content, and total solids in the sample. The main two variables in any naturally occurring organism (in this case fish or meat) are water and fat, one being the inverse of the other.
We recommend that all measurements for our standard calibrations are taken when the sample is at a temperature between 0 -10º C, with no ice crystals present. There will be a difference in the measurement values using the Fatmeter, when measuring the same product at 40º C. This means that the Fatmeter measurements, using the standard calibrations, become less accurate for product at this temperature, due to changes in composition and density of the sample.
Product changes is due to several factors…
- The product at 40º C will be more dynamic in nature, with changes occurring in the sample composition due to moisture evaporation, thus changing the relationship…. between water and fat content in the sample.
- At 40 degrees C… the product will be much looser in nature (less dense).
- At 40 degrees C the fat /oil in the sample will be more mobile, and can be redistributed within the sample.
- The longer the time the product is at 40 degrees C, the more the moisture of the sample will change, affecting the composition of the sample.
It is recommended to create a custom calibration for product at 40º C. This new calibration will be more accurate, and will take account of the compositional changes, product density, fat redistribution within the sample, providing that :
- The product ingredients are the same from batch to batch
- The product remains on the same temperature and time profile from batch to batch.
Do normal laboratory tests still need to be carried out ?
YES, BUT NOT SO MANY, because the Distell Meat Fatmeter is designed to allow many measurements to be taken to routinely screen the product. Occasional laboratory tests can be used as a support to confirm the results.
Does temperature affect the performance or results achieved using the Fatmeter ?
Provided that the Meat product being measured with the Fatmeter contains no ice crystals, temperature should have no significant effect. Where the Meat product does contain Ice Crystals, the Fatmeter will tend to over-read the Fat Content level….this is due to the Microwave system being unable to measure the water in the frozen state, thus interpreting a lower quantity of water in the meat ….than is actually the case.
- We have found that fresh minced meats cooling to –2°C normally do not contain ice crystals…and can be measured as normal.
- We have found that frozen meats will still contain ice crystals, even as the sample temperature begins to rise above zero. It is therefore quite important to allow recently defrosted samples to temper in an ambient temperature of between 5-10°C. This will ensure that the ice crystals have fully dissolved.
- We have also found that minced meats, stored at or above 10°C, can suffer moisture loss over a period of time, and can create a variance from the Fatmeters’ Natural Meat Calibration.
- For consistent, wholly accurate results, the operator should ensure that the Meat or Meat Products are measured at the same ambient temperature on a daily basis….within a temperature range of 0 – 10°C .
How accurate is the Fatmeter?
For minced meat products an accuracy level of +/- 0.5% can be achieved on meat samples with an average fat content of 10% the following accuracies are typical…
How fast is the Measurement?
Approximately TWO minutes to take EIGHT MEASUREMENTS from a 300 gm sample of minced meat. Much faster than any other methods for which sample preparation and measurement can be anything from 15 minutes to several hours.
Is it really portable?
YES… unlike other methods, it is a HAND-HELD instrument powered by rechargeable batteries. The Fatmeter will operate for up to EIGHT HOURS continuously.
Is it Waterproof?
YES… to IP65 standards. This allows the Fatmeter to be used in very wet environments such as fish farms.
Is the equipment accredited for use within the Meat Industry ?
Yes .. the Fatmeter has achieved AQIS (Australian Quality & Inspection Services) accreditation to “Chemical Lean” Standards. The Fatmeter has also been approved for use in US Meat Plants by the FDA.
Is the instrument FDA approved ?
YES… The instrument was submitted to FDA by a previous distributor in the USA for approval for use in Meat Plants. At that time, FDA were only interested in assuring that all parts of the Fatmeter that came into contact with food product was constructed of food grade materials. I don’t think that the criteria has changed since this was carried out in 1998. We can confirm that all parts of the Fatmeter that comes in contact with food product is to food grade standard…Sensor constructed of food grade stainless steel… with food grade PTFE covering. Enclosure made from ABS Plastic. The Meat Fatmeter is AQIS accredited to Chemical Lean Standards (CL).
Some Advice on using the Meat Fatmeter on Processed Meats…
The Fatmeter does not necessarily require to have a dedicated product specific calibration. It is easy to create your own “ERROR TABLE” without going to the expense of a dedicated calibration.
The Fatmeter is portable, and its advantage lies in its’ ability to monitor large numbers of samples rapidly and non-destructively. Thus checking Specification, Sample homogeneity, Product uniformity…day-to-day, hour-to-hour, if need be.
How to create the Error Table…
The example below illustrates the results of using the Fatmeter and then comparing with traditional laboratory methods. We have prepared graphs of the data. The graphs allow you to see, at a glance…FOUR important factors…and allows the operator or quality control department the ability to monitor the following…
- Product uniformity…hour-to-hour, day-to-day.
- Sample variability from batch-to-batch, sample-to-sample.
- Product is within specification requirement
- Screen the production process at various points in the factory
The trend lines on the graphed results allow you to assess the value of the variance between your existing lab method and a chosen calibration setting on your Fatmeter. We have shown below TWO examples of different types of sausage mix, measured using a Meat Fatmeter on our UK ” General Sausage” calibration. The samples were then sent to the laboratory for analysis, and the results of the Fatmeter were compared to the Babcock Laboratory results.
By charting the results of the two methods ( it means that you can compare the Fatmeter results with any system currently in use within your facilities), the operator can readily prepare an “Error Table” and thus continue to use the Fatmeter for monitoring and measurement of any of their processed products.…without going to the expense of a dedicated calibration.
Everyday, I carry checks on Check Pad both Low and High Range and I allow the fatmeter at least 5 minutes to stabilize before checking it on the check pad. I get the results 9 for low range and 16.3 for high range. I select 300 grams samples for testing and I compress the sample to exclude air. I get measurements on 8 different sample area. I release the read button, before removing the sensor form the product and there is no air cavities under fatmeter during measurement.
The same sample is analysed with two different methods.
Although samples’ fat content is identified about 26%, 24% with extraction method, we can’t take measurement with meat fatmeter. It shows out of range.
There is obviously a fault with the Fatmeter Kit. Can you please send the unit back to Distell by International carrier such as… DHL International, UPS Air Express, TNT International, or FedEx. Using these overnight carriers services, we will receive the Fatmeter Kit at Distell normally within TWO working days. We will then be able to repair, and re-calibrate the Fatmeter to specifications.
Please return to Distell at the following address… Service Dept, Distell.com, Old Levenseat, Fauldhouse, West Lothian EH47 AD, Scotland – UK.
Please ensure that you follow the instructions below. The shipment should be imported to the UK using the correct UK Customs Codes for… Inward Processing Relief (IPR Suspension) in the UK, using the following IPR details…
Distell’s IPR Authorisation Number… IP/0907/518/12
Customs Economic Code… 30(4)
Customs Entry Code… 51 00 000
Customs Exit Code… 31 51 000
Commodity Code…. 9027 8097 00
IMPORTANT – IMPORTANT – IMPORTANT
Please print the following details on… Carton, Labels and Export Documents…where appropriate… ” The equipment is being returned to the manufacturer in the UK for… Repair & Service”. Please ensure that your carrier is aware of the shipment status…. This will ensure that no customs duties or VAT is levied on the shipment by UK Customs, or by your local customs, when equipment is returned to you.
We are having accuracy issues with ground beef with fat content of 30 percent. Any thoughts on improving these tests?
- Each day, before measuring on Meat Product, check the Fatmeter on Check Pad and that values are correct
- For Minced / Ground Beef use the BEEF-1 Calibration Setting
- For Beef Emulsions, use the BEEF-2 Calibration Setting (MRM, MDM, etc.)
- For normal ground product… Always use a sample size of… 250 – 300 gms, in a burger shape, with a minimum thickness of… 25 mm
- Always take measurements from different parts of the sample, so that the sensor has covered most of the surface area, and will then provide the best representative accuracy of the whole sample.
- Take FOUR measurements on the top surface at different locations, and FOUR measurements on the flip side, at different locations ( a total 8 measurements…this will give best accuracy)
- You will find that the 8 individual measurements will have different fat contents… this illustrates the uniformity, and consistency of the ground beef product
What factors usually affect the measurement ?
- For best, and most consistent results and accuracy, product should be measured when within a temperature range of… 0-10° C… NOT in the frozen state, and NO ice crystals present in the sample.
- Very course meat grinds (>8mm), pieces of whole meat, or, meat that has not been blended can give quite significant differences in individual readings. With such product it is important to take the recommended number of readings from various parts of the sample, thus ensuring that the meter readings taken are fully representative of the sample.
- Operator Error… Operators must ensure that the meter’s sensor is fully in contact with the sample when measurements are being taken, and that measurements are taken as recommended by Distell.
- Sample Size… To obtain reliable, and accurate results, the sample size should be 250 -300 gms, a uniform grind, with measurements taken around the sample. Operators should ensure that they take the measurements as recommended in measurement charts provided. This will ensure that the measurements taken are fully representative of the ALL of the sample.
What is the cost of a service contract for a Meat Fatmeter?
Distell can offer a Contract period of…. ONE or THREE YEARS. The cost of a Service Contract is as follows….
- ONE Year Contract – £ 395.00
- THREE Year Contract – £ 895.00
Please explain to me the difference between Beef1 and Burger1 calibration curves. Since your Burger 1 does not have any additives I don’t understand the difference.
Distell have TWO Burger calibrations available… each Burger calibration has been created using Burgers with a selection of additives, and we have measured many different manufacturers’ burgers during the calibration process, and incorporated the data from each, to create a General Burger Calibration that provides a good indication of the Fat Content.
BURGER-1… Typical Commercial Beefburger recipe, with samples taken at random from supermarket shelves, measured using the Fatmeter, and then analysed in local food laboratories.
A typical Commercial Beef Burger recipe is usually made with…
- Mince / ground beef (this can be… beef muscle, beef muscle, beef trims… depending upon quality / cost of the burger).
- Curing mix… Salt, Phosphate
- Extenders of.. TVP, Qualicel, Versagel, Water
- Seasonings…some of the following… Spices, Pepper, Meat enhancer, Onion, Breadcrumbs
BURGER-2… Typical Commercial Hamburger recipe, with samples taken from supermarket shelves, measured using the Fatmeter, and then analysed in local food laboratories.
A typical Commercial Ham Burger recipe is usually made with…
- 70% Beef Lean
- 30% Pork Lean
- Curing Mix of… Salt , Phosphate
- Extenders of… TVP, Qualicel, Versagel, Water
- Seasonings… usually contains… Sugar, Pepper, Garlic, MSG, Meat enhancer, Onion, Celery, Hamburger seasoning, Milk of whey, Egg, Breadcrumbs.
It is worth noting that the recipes may be different in different countries, and this may affect the overall accuracy of the Fatmeter, on individual burger recipes, however, I am sure that for screening, and monitoring purposes, the measurements using the Fatmeter will be quite accurate, and can be refined where required.
What is the main use of the Distell Meat Fatmeter ?
Its main use is to measure the Fat Content of MEAT & MEAT PRODUCTS eg. Minced Beef, Pork, Poultry, Lamb, Sausage Meat, Hamburger Meat, etc.
What precautions should I take when comparing Meat Fatmeter results with Laboratory Analysis ?
This is a very important question, and great care should be taken to ensure rigorous attention to detail….Where you know that the measurements made by the Fatmeter are going to be compared to some form of Laboratory Analysis, always ensure a rigorous preparation procedure. Otherwise you may get a different result from the laboratory, and this will create confusion and doubt.
The preparation instructions are clearly described in the Fatmeter Handbook, but for the avoidance of doubt we have given a brief description here, as follows…
Switch ON the Fatmeter and allow it to warm up and stabilise for 10 minutes. Then select the correct calibration, from the menu. You can confirm that it is the correct calibration by pressing the ‘RESET’ button on the Fatmeter…the selection will be displayed briefly on the LCD display.
You are now ready to take measurements….The Fatmeter will request a series of EIGHT readings. Please ensure that the readings are taken from around the sample….at recommended measurement sites, fully described in this handbook.
Select 300 gms of minced meat product at random from a batch of product. Hand compress the sample into a “sausage-like”, or “patty-like” shape, ensuring that you have excluded any air cavities… as per chart supplied.
Place the sensor head fully in contact with the sample, being careful to exclude any air cavities. Press and hold the ‘READ’ button until the reading has stabilised, then release the button, whilst sensor is still firmly in contact with the sample.
Take all eight readings from various positions on the sample ( see chart supplied ). After the eight readings the Fatmeter will automatically display the Average Fat Content of the sample. The result should give accurate Fat Content, representing ALL of the 300gm sample.
Having measured the sample with the Fatmeter, duly prepared samples should now be sent to the Laboratory for analysis, if you wish to confirm the performance of the Fatmeter. Remember, the laboratory only use between 9 – 45 gms of the meat sample for the analysis process, so you must ensure that the laboratory do in fact blend ALL 300 gms of the meat sample…prior to taking their sample for analysis. In addition, the laboratory must do triplicate analysis, taking a 2nd & 3rd samples from the different areas of the meat sample you have supplied them. This ensures that we have a check on the uniformity of the blended product.
The Fatmeter can be compared with any recognised Lab Method. However, the Fatmeter has been calibrated against Foss-Let Chemical Method….an AOAC recognised Laboratory based Chemical Extraction Method. This will give the best comparative accuracy. There can be significant variances in Laboratory results depending on the method used, and we recommend that the method of comparison is taken into account. If you have followed carefully the instructions above, the Fatmeter results should compare favourably with laboratory results, and should be within the performance range quoted in Operators Manual.