Instrument augmented grading

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Source: Canadian Beef Grading Agency

One development in the Canadian Grading System was implementation of the computer vision grading system e+v Technology (VIA technology: VBS 2000, E+V GmbH, Germany). The system’s original LED cameras have since been updated with digital (GigE) cameras. Computer vision grading technology enables multiple measurements of yield and quality grade parameters to be made more quickly than would be possible using manual approaches. Further, the digital format of the carcass data enables the information to be stored in industry databases such as BIXS.

It marked the first major advancement in the Canadian system since the Computer Vision System (CVS) camera was introduced in 1999. The e+v technology is approved for use as a grading aid by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and enables improved grading accuracy under current grading regulations. The final grade is always overseen/approved by a CBGA certified and CFIA designated grader, who are able to, if necessary, override the camera’s grading scores should they not be accurate.

In Canada, the e+v grading instrument is a stationary machine that photographs and analyses the rib eye area between the 12th and 13th ribs of both sides of each carcass as it passes by on a moving rail. At present, the computer grading camera measures grade fat, rib eye width, rib eye length, and calculates a retail cut yield, providing a yield class and a marbling score which equates to a quality grade. Once approved, there are regular audits and oversight of the technology to insure its accuracies and compliance as set forth in the Packer-Agency Contract, Schedule B-I “Requirements for Instrument Augmented Grading”.

Currently, four establishments in Canada have a moving rail – JBS (formally XL Beef) in Brooks, Cargill High River, Cargill Guelph, and Harmony Beef in Balzac, all have installed the instrument but the JBS facility was the first, and continues to be the only to use it to augment beef carcass grading. While the other facilities have utilized the technology for “in-house” purposes over the past years, there are currently others now at various stages of the adoption of computer vision systems as an aide in grading at their establishments.

The technology is objective and assesses marbling under the same light and at the same distance from the rib eye based on minute calculations of red and white pixels within the traced muscle. The information captured can be stored, shared and further analyzed.

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