Honors Undergraduate Research Journal


The goal of this research project is to develop an optical low coherence reflectometry (OLCR) system for use in testing meat tenderness. This system will use a precision reflectometer that sends out infrared light to a sample and collects the reflections from the outer layers of the meat to plot a structural representation of the sample in a reflectivity-over-distance measurement. Tenderness is correlated to the relative densities of proteins and connective tissues in the meat, which this technique may be able to image. In the winter of 2007, a system was constructed for testing purposes. In the spring of 2007, testing and data analysis procedures were developed and tests were run on a group of meat samples of varying tenderness to see if correlations could be established between results from OLCR testing and shear force testing. The results show preliminary relationships between tenderness and beam attenuation into the meat samples. Future research is required to have a statistically significant experiment. Modifications to the testing procedure and data analysis techniques are required to establish better correlations.