Imaging technology could better identify woody breast in fillets during poultry processing, improving detection and reducing financial losses caused by the breast meat myopathy.

“The fundamental idea of the machine vision technology to assist with the detection of the woody breast condition in poultry breast meat is to measure the physical bending of the fillet,” Dr. Seung-Chul Yoon, a research electronics engineer in the Quality and Safety Assessment Research Unit at the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service’s (USDA-ARS) U.S. National Poultry Research Center, said.

Woody breast is a breast meat myopathy that affects the rigidity, texture, and mouth feel of broiler meat. Texture issues can include fibrousness, crunchiness, and other unappealing attributes to consumers. Woody breast meat is typically discarded or further processed at the processing stage because of its undesirable attributes, resulting in large financial losses.

Detecting difference in physical properties

The machine vision technology, presented as an innovation at the 2018 Poultry Tech Summit, measures the physical properties of a material. 

A camera takes up to 200 frames per second of breast meat fillets moving down the conveyer belt. The images are analyzed using an imaging processing technique to detect stiffness in the fillets when they are bent, where woody breast meat is less bent compared to normal poultry breast meat.


Initially, the cameras were positioned at the side of the conveyer, which showed limitations when there were two fillets side by side. A new design features the camera looking down at the top of the conveyer and incorporates artificial intelligence (AI) and 3D imaging technology to expand the coverage to multiple fillets at one time.

Yoon is looking for commercial partners to license the technology.

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