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Researchers Use CT Scans to Determine Carcass Composition

09 May 2016

SPAIN - Researchers at the IRTA institute in Catalonia are using computerised tomography (CT) scans to determine fat, muscle, and bone composition in animals or their carcasses, in a move which could help the meat industry save time and money.

CT scans were initially developed for medical purposes, and produce images of the inside of a body without opening it. 

They allow researchers to inspect the inside of the animal's body and obtain thickness, area, and volume values of every tissue.

Being a non-invasive and non-destructive technique, it allows them to study the development of carcass composition in a single animal during the various stages of its growth. Traditionally, these values were obtained from serial sacrifices of animals.

Among other things and because the study is done with one animal, CT scans save time and money, as well improving the accuracy of the results.

Another use of CT scans is the possibility to obtain 3D reconstructions of the animal. Researchers are working to virtually cut them and predict fat and muscle composition of each of the pieces, which would allow optimising industrial animal cutting.

According to Maria Font, a researcher in IRTA at Monells: “The CT scan allows us to follow-up tissue growth and analyse bones to view the effect the diet has on the composition of the animal.”

Other possible uses are related to animal health (e.g. diagnosis of rhinitis), genetic selection, or the follow-up of industrial processes such the salting of ham.

The European Union has approved the use of CT scanning as a reference system to calibrate carcass classification apparatus.

Top image: IRTA's scan room in Monells (Girona)

TheCattleSite News Desk

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