Hybrid System for Ultrasound Signal, Spectral, and Image Analyses to Enhance Meat Quality Evaluation in Food Animals
Department of Agriculture
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Small Business Information
1606 GOLDEN ASPEN DR STE 104, Ames, IA, 50010
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
Lead Project Engineer
Lead Project Engineer
AbstractDetermining meat quality attributes in food animals is essential for genetic selection, sorting, and marketing. Ultrasound techniques have the potential to benefit the swine industry for improvements in both quality and yield measures by non-destructive and non-invasive means. Biotronics, Inc. has developed and markets products for evaluation of percent intramuscular fat (% IMF) in longissimus dorsi muscle and body composition traits in live pigs using conventional real-time ultrasound (B-mode) imaging technology. It has recently introduced this technology in a commercial prototype for hot carcass instrument grading. The premise of the project is that swine breeders can be rewarded financially for production of pigs resulting in higher levels of % IMF if the pork packing plant realizes premiums for their product. There is a need to continually improve accuracy and reduce bias for estimation of % IMF, especially for integration of % IMF levels into payment systems. The overall objective of this SBIR project is to significantly improve the % IMF and % lean evaluation by utilizing the new hybrid digital ultrasound technology. A unique opportunity exists due to recent availability of a programmable ultrasound scanner with access to both unprocessed, radio frequency (RF) ultrasound backscattered signals and corresponding B-mode images, and recent reports that combining parameters from both signals and images improves accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity for tissue characterization. The Phase-I of this project successfully demonstrated the feasibility of simultaneously acquiring ultrasound images and RF signals from live pigs using a new generation of programmable digital ultrasound scanner and demonstrated greater than 10% improvements in % IMF estimation accuracy by combining parameters from RF signals with texture parameters from images. During the Phase-II, we will assemble a commercial prototype of the hybrid system for hot carcass instrument grading and will test the system in the packing plant by scanning carcasses at a line speed of 1200 per hour. We will refine the methods for real-time acquisition and processing of hybrid ultrasound signal, spectrum and image data. We will implement algorithms for fully automatic and accurate determination of % IMF and % lean, in near real-time at the line speed, by automatically identifying acceptable quality data frames and anatomical landmarks. Benefits of the proposed next generation system will include significant improvement in % IMF in an overall customized system design that integrates digital ultrasound and computer into one device and reduces the number of components. This will also lead to better quality control and longer lifecycle of the proposed commercial carcass instrument grading system. The Biotronics team is in unique position to lead this effort to develop the next generation ultrasound meat quality evaluation system. The proposed hybrid system has the potential to significantly improve marketable ultrasound technology and have a long lasting economic impact on all segments of the pork industry, with the ultimate benefit to be realized by the consumer.
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