Future Brightens for Light-Based Carcass
Inspection Device By
September 19, 2002
The future is now brighter for light-based scanners that inspect
beef carcasses for possible microbiological contamination.
That's because eMerge Interactive Inc., a
Sebastian, Fla., company that holds exclusive rights to the technology's
commercialization, is increasing production of a small, hand-held version of
the scanners. The increase in production is due to an order for 17 devices,
placed by Excel Corp. of Wichita,
Kan., a beef-processing company that is a subsidiary of
Excel is also set to build a 900-square-foot addition to one of
its plants, where the first of the full-sized scanners will be commercially
The planned production, marketing and testing of VerifEYE (the
machines' trademark name) comes as great news to the
Agricultural Research Service and
Iowa State University scientists who
developed and patented the device. The research was done at ARS'
Safety and Enteric Diseases Unit, which is part of the agency's
National Animal Disease Center in
Ames, Iowa. ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.
The instruments use specific wavelengths, or colors, of light to
illuminate carcasses. The reflected light is analyzed electronically to
determine if contaminants such as fecal matter are present.
The new development represents another step toward getting the
devices to market, according to Mark Rasmussen, the ARS unit's research leader
who developed the technology with ARS microbiologist Tom Casey, also at
The hand-held devices, which are about the size of a compact
video camera, will be used for online and spot inspections. Initial testing
will determine their best use.
Meanwhile, testing of the full-sized machine will take place in
a new addition to Excel's plant in Schuyler, Neb. Construction is set to begin
next month, and installation of the device is scheduled for November. The
machine will examine carcasses as they are conveyed across the scanners'
sights. Contaminated carcasses can be removed from the line and decontaminated
before entering the food chain.