Meat processing: how to do it best with IFT equipment

All useful tips and equipment to carry out meat processing

Thursday 27 June 2024

In meat processing, the choice of the right tools is crucial to ensure both product quality and food safety. The hygiene and food safety challenges faced by companies may vary depending on the type of meat being processed and its origin: for example, raw, frozen or cooked meat, or red, white meat, poultry or game. Each of these requires specific processes and attention during processing and packaging. 

Meat processing equipment, therefore, must be carefully selected. It is essential that they are made of safe and certified food contact materials to minimize the risk of contamination, and that they are easy to clean and maintain. IFT plastic equipment, for example, offers advanced solutions for every step of the process, from slaughter to storage and transport, ensuring that every step is carried out with maximum precision and hygiene. 

In this article we offer some useful tips to carry out meat processing and choose the most suitable equipment for every need. 

Main methods of meat processing

Processed meats represent a set of products that have undergone one or more processes in order to improve their preservation, flavor and durability. These processes may include traditional and modern techniques that transform raw meat into a variety of finished products for consumption. Among the main methods of meat processing we find: 

  • salting, one of the oldest techniques of meat preservation. During this process the meat is sprinkled with salt or immersed in a brine. This allows you to extract water, which evaporates more easily after being transported to the surface by salt. The process takes place very slowly and can last from a few weeks to several months, depending on the type of meat and the size of the pieces. Salting not only inhibits bacterial growth and prolongs the preservation of meat, but also improves its taste and food safety. Today, with the development of less invasive preservation methods, such as refrigeration or vacuum storage, it is a process used almost exclusively to preserve and give flavor to cured meats; 
  • seasoning, that is the process of controlled aging of the meat in environments at regulated temperature and humidity. During seasoning, natural enzymes and beneficial microbes work to break down proteins and fats, giving meat a distinctive flavor and consistency. Meat is usually hung in rooms specially designed to facilitate this process, which can last from a few weeks to several months. Seasoning is particularly appreciated for red meat, which over time develop a rich and intense flavor;
  • fermentation, a method that exploits beneficial microbes to transform the carbohydrates present in meat, helping to create distinctive flavors and prolong shelf life. Meat is mixed with ingredients such as sugar, salt and bacterial cultures, and kept under anaerobic conditions (without oxygen) to promote the growth of the desired bacteria. This process can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks. Fermentation is commonly used in the production of sausages, such as salami;
  • smoking, which involves the exposure of meat to smoke from the combustion of aromatic woods. This method not only gives a characteristic flavor to the meat, but also helps its preservation. Smoking can change the taste, texture and color of meat depending on the type of wood used, the smoking time, the presence or absence of myoglobin and the moisture of the product. Foods generally treated with this technique include, for example, ham and bacon.

Advantages of plastic meat processing equipment

Plastic equipment, in particular those made of polypropylene, are particularly suitable for meat processing processes due to their specific characteristics and properties. Polypropylene is in fact a plastic material that offers an excellent combination of strength, lightness and ease of cleaning and is ideal for use in contact with food. This material does not react with the acids present in the meat, maintaining its structural integrity over time and ensuring a safe and hygienic working environment. Another significant advantage of polypropylene equipment is their durability. They are wear-resistant and can withstand the intensive use and difficult working conditions typical of slaughterhouses and meat processing industries, without rapidly deteriorating. In addition, they are particularly light and easy to move, which facilitates the manipulation of equipment and reduces operator fatigue, improving operational efficiency.

Hygienically, polypropylene equipment offers smooth, non-porous surfaces that are easy to clean and sanitize. This is fundamental in meat processing, where the prevention of cross-contamination and the reduction of the risk of bacterial proliferation are fundamental aspects. Smooth surfaces prevent the accumulation of any meat residues or processing waste, facilitating cleaning and sanitizing operations.

In addition, polypropylene is a particularly versatile material, which can be easily molded to make food equipment of different shapes and sizes. The possibility to customize the equipment according to the specific needs of each company or meat processing plant allows to optimize the work processes and improve production efficiency.

IFT meat processing equipment

IFT meat processing equipment are innovative and highly efficient solutions for various production processes in sausage factories, ham factories and slaughterhouses and, in general, in the meat and sausage sector. Thanks to the use of certified materials for food contact, these equipment offer versatility and safety, and are ideal for all stages of processing: from seasoning to smoking, until freezing and thawing. Among the main plastic equipment proposed by IFT for meat processing are:

  • polypropylene boards: available in different sizes and types, they are designed to allow easy insertion on shelves for shelving, racks, trolleys or drying and seasoning surfaces. In particular, the TGRA polypropylene board is injection moulded in one piece, ensuring easy handling and durability. Its particular characteristics ensure the highest quality of the final product and the performance of safe and controlled processing processes;
  • stackable plastic trays, suitable for different types of use, such as storage of products during the drying or curing phases. Made of polypropylene, these trays are designed for manual use by a single operator within the automatic systems for stacking and unpacking frames. Thanks to a sliding system, they can be easily removed from the pile, ensuring lightness, resistance and ease of sanitation; 
  • stackable grids, useful for the storage of meat and sausages during cooling, freezing and thawing, salting or pasteurization. Made entirely of polypropylene suitable for contact with food, these equipment are designed to carry out these processes in the safest and hygienic way possible, maintaining unchanged the properties and quality of the final products and enhancing their characteristics; 
  • floor mats with holes of different types and sizes, entirely made of polypropylene and certified for contact with food. They are extremely useful for different types of processing and ensure perfect ventilation and easy handling in cells or in seasoning warehouses, as well as ensuring perfect sanitation; 
  • seasoning grids, useful also for the pasteurization of cooked hams and for the freezing, defrosting and smoking phases. They are available in different sizes and sizes to adapt to any type of product and ensure perfect ventilation, easy operation in cells or in seasoning warehouses, and complete sanitation, significantly contributing to the quality and safety of the final product.

For more information about IFT meat processing equipment, please contact us! Our staff is always available to advise you on the best solutions and best suited to the specific needs of your company.