Richard Hebel the ‘Guru’ of fat analysis

Eagle: ‘Meat industry is fearful of the media’

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

The FA3
The FA3

Related tags Meat Meat industry

Eagle Product Inspection (Eagle) will launch its third generation fat analysis machine - FA3, for meat products, at Interpack 2014.

The technology includes SimulTask software for 100% inline inspection and measurement of weight, fat, protein, moisture and contaminant detection.

Economic duress

Richard Hebel, product manager, fat analysis, Eagle, otherwise known as the ‘Guru of fat analysis’ told FoodProductionDaily the meat industry is fearful of the media right now because of recent exposés in the press and on TV and people are not eating as much red meat.

Everything from mistreatment of animals to unsanitary conditions - almost all meat processors refuse to have any kind of media come into their plant and discuss things. Having any media exposure in a plant is now illegal in a number of US states​,” he said.

The meat industry is under a lot of economic duress​.”

Hebel said for convenience we can think of the industry as two groups; the slaughter packer type operation, which harvest animals and sell the component meat; and the people that buy the meat, the processors.

The processors add value to that meat in one way or another, we call them the ‘grinders’ because they buy the meat and grind it to certain specifications​,” he added.

What’s happening economically is the first group is facing an incredible squeeze, on the producer end animal prices are going up because of drought and disease and grain prices have gone through the roof, this has been going on for a few years​.

Richard Hebel_Eagle Product Inspection_small
Richard Hebel

Major margin squeeze

At the same time, worldwide consumption of red meat is tailing off. So the price they get for components to sell is clamped as well. They are in a major margin squeeze​.

Both groups are trying to find ways to reduce cost. It’s a big deal right now at the processor end​.”

Hebel added in the last two years, processors have become more interested in LCF (Least Cost Formulation) – ​a tool to keep meat costs in check.

For example, in packing a hamburger a processor will buy meat from different places, like spot buys, to make it at the least cost.

It’s not that simple any more depending on the commodity price of beef – to mix and match and drive the least amount of cost in that blend​,” said Hebel.

That’s where the FA3 allows them to major 100% of their product flow for chemical lean – how lean is the meat, directly related to fat. Chemical lean is the way meat isbought and it is increasingly a much more precise method because before it relied on visual recognition​.

The accuracy of what you put in a package is how accurately you can measure your process. Traditionally in the meat industry they did this manually sampling meat from time to time during the day but this is a notoriously inaccurate process. FA3 looks at 100% of the meat that is passing through so processors know exactly what the blend is going to be​.”

Hebel said this year, visitors to Interpack will see more technology regarding refrigeration, sanitation and discussions about environmental footprint and the amount of space machinery takes up.


The amount of space a machine takes up is expensive, factories are usually crowded but with the FA3 we directly address this by reducing the size of the system​,” he said.

He added, the Eagle Fat Analysis Technology will be officially launched for the first time at the show and trials are currently on-going.

We are waiting for regulatory approvals but we are due to complete those before the show​,” he added.

We haven’t accepted any orders yet but we will start accepting them at Interpack. We call it the Stage Gate product introduction process, where you pass certain criteria before product introduction to the next stage. The show is the roll out phase​.

Other Eagle products on display will be the Tall PRO XSDV - a dual view x-ray system to detect and remove up to 50% smaller sized contaminants in rigid and glass containers and Eagle Pack 550 PRO, an x-ray inspection system designed for contaminant detection and quality measurements of large and varied size packages.

It features Material Discrimination Technology (MDX) which allows manufacturers to detect and remove contaminants such as glass shards, calcified bones and stones.

The company is exhibiting at Interpack, Dusseldorf, Germany (May 8-14) in Hall 13, Stand D12.

Related topics Processing & Packaging

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