New technology aids food-safety efforts

The eMerge VerifEYE system helps packing plants identify, remove fecal contamination.

Incorporating multiple-hurdle interventions at the packing plant level is one of the beef industry’s most effective strategies in efforts to prevent food-borne illness outbreaks. The eMerge VerifEYE™ Fecal Contamination Identification and Removal Verification System offered by eMerge Interactive Inc., Sebastian, FL, is one of the newest weapons available in industry‘s food-safety arsenal.
Finds harmful microbes
Because it is impossible to detect microscopic traces of fecal contamination on beef carcasses with the naked eye, eMerge’s  real-time, high-tech solution is made to order for the beef industry. Developed by researchers from Iowa State University and USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, the VerifEYE Carcass Inspection System (CIS) uses a combination of light at specific wavelengths and advanced electronics to scan beef carcasses and display images on nearby monitors. Areas of contamination are immediately apparent in these images, which alerts workers that further trimming is needed.
Additional technology benefits include:
•Detailed displays of contaminated areas prevent workers from erring on the side of caution with overzealous trimming; if any contamination is missed, the CIS sounds an alarm. This translates to greater yield per carcass and less waste —while simultaneously enhancing product safety.
•The CIS system allows packers to archive scan data. This helps them to refine processes, improve performance, and reduce incidences of cross-contamination.
Portable solution
VerifEYE Solo™ is the company’s hand-held inspection device, which uses the same patented VerifEYE technology as the CIS, but offers the flexibility of a lightweight, easy-to-use device that can be used in meat plants, distribution centers, and supermarket meat counters. The Solo allows customers to verify the quality of incoming meat products by using a better, more objective way to inspect meat, the company relays.
“The Solo enhances our food-safety program by providing an objective and consistent quality inspection tool, which our employees can use to ensure that we are doing the best job possible,” says Vincent DeGrado, corporate director of technical services for Rosen Meat Group.
The Excel connection
Officials at Wichita, KS-based Excel Corp, part of the Cargill Meat Solutions family, are equally impressed by the VerifEYE system, and the use of this technology is evolving at their company. The first such system in the industry was installed in Excel’s Schuyler, NE plant, which processes 1 million head of cattle annually. This leading beef packer is in the process of adopting this technology in all of its beef-packing plants.
“The development of eMerge’s VerifEYE CIS has resulted in a system that truly meets our needs and expectations,” notes Bill Rupp, president of Excel Beef. “The CIS is a natural addition to our existing efforts and provides yet another step to provide the highest-quality products possible. We are excited to begin installing the VerifEYE CIS in our remaining North American processing facilities.”
-eMerge Interactive Inc., phone (772) 581-9700, fax (772) 581-0204, or log on to