Meat is prepared and processed in multiple stages. The journey starts with carcasses from the slaughterhouse of cattle, pigs, sheep, poultry and other livestock. It finishes with consumer-ready products which have undergone various processes, from simple cutting and portioning to more extensive grinding, mixing and forming treatments. Meat processing also produces by-products such as hides, feathers, dried blood, rendered fat and bone meal.
Meat processing follows a sequence involving some or all the following machinery: skinning, deboning, cutting, processing, forming, portioning and packing. Each function can be performed by standalone equipment or as part of an integrated meat processing, production and packaging line.
Skinning machines are designed for the efficient removal of skin, membrane and rind. They should maximise the meat yield from a carcass and remove any unwanted fragments of skin and membrane. Thoroughly skinned meats have significantly more consumer appeal than roughly or incompletely skinned products, and the benefit of top quality machinery is that they can deliver products which meet consumer demands. Machines are available for multiple types of meat such as lamb, beef, pork and poultry, and some are also flexible enough to handle multiple shapes and sizes of fish.
Skinning machinery ranges from portable table top machines to high volume industrial equipment. The machinery can be automatic, semi-automatic or manual, with a range of widths ranging from the relatively small to large widths for bigger animals. Adjustable blade settings also allow for different thicknesses of skin and rind to be removed.
See more about skinning machines.
Deboning equipment is generally designed around the shape of specific types of meat, and for different joints. Deboning involves gripping the meat, cutting it away from the bone, and conveying the meat to the next stage of processing. Recovered bones and collagen are usually processed in a separate operation and used for meat by-products such as animal feeds and fertilisers, as well as mechanically recovered meat (MRM) products for human consumption.
Deboners are available for all parts of poultry, including thighs, drumsticks, wings and the removal of breasts. Pork and lamb deboners are used for the removal of the aitch bone (the back of the hip) and on shoulders and legs. After whole carcasses are sectioned into four parts by a cutting machine, beef quarters are ready for butchering by hand or machinery. Deboning machinery is used to free up the meat from different parts of the beef quarter, ready to be portioned into the various cuts and joints seen in butchers’ shops and on supermarket shelves.
After the removal of the meat, the carcass is ground and forced under high pressure through a sieve or fine grill to separate the meat remnants from larger pieces of bones and sinews. The result is a paste which is a mix of meat and other elements of the animal such as bone marrow, skin and nerves. It can be enhanced by adding meat (ie muscle) and is used for human and non-human consumption.
Cutting meat machines
Meat needs to be cut as part of the deboning process, to allow the removal of bones from different parts of the animal. Machine cutting is usually based on a system of stainless steel blades (knives or band saws) which are easily cleaned to meet hygiene requirements.
Cutting or trimming equipment is often integrated with deboning equipment as part of the meat processing flow. Cutting is normally performed by a system of stainless steel blades (knives or saws) which are easily cleaned to meet hygiene requirements.
Meat cutting machines are also designed to slice and dice portions of raw, unprocessed meat as well as processed meats such as hams, salamis and other types of charcuterie.
Meat processing equipment
Raw meat is transformed into many different types of processed products including mince,
sausages, hams, bacon, corned beef, canned meats, dried meat, pastes and charcuterie. Restructured meat is produced by chopping or flaking meat, blending it with other meat and non-meat products such as flavourings and preservatives, and forming it into shapes. Some restructured meat products such as ham can resemble natural shapes, while others such as burgers and sausages do not.
A wide range of machinery is used in meat processing including:
- Industrial meat grinders, mincers, dicers, slicers, flakers, mixers and blenders
- Forming equipment
- Fillers and stuffers
- Coating, battering and breading machines
- Equipment for processing frozen meat
- Cookers, refrigerators and freezers
- Tenderisers including vacuum tumblers, massagers and injectors
The actual machinery used in any meat processing environment depends on:
- the type of meat product
- the throughput required
- the flexibility required
- constraints of the site
Meat processing may be a simple arrangement at a local butchers, perhaps for making sausages, burgers or pie fillings, and could involve a significant amount of manual work. In large scale meat production facilities, you can expect to see a fully integrated processing and packaging line with large elements of automation and machine control.
See more about food processing.
Machinery for meat-based ready meals
Meat-based ready meals use cooked and processed meat products usually in combination with sauces, carbohydrates and vegetables, portioned in oven-ready trays. Other oven-ready processed meat meals include meat pies, casseroles and lasagne. The equipment used to process ready meals, begins with meat preparation, combining with other ingredients, cooking, filling in trays, sealing and packaging. Ready meal production lines can consist of modular units, or a start-to-finish processing and packaging line.
See more about ready meals.
Other equipment used in meat processing
For handling meat products at various stages of production, conveyors, depositors, portioners and a range of stainless steel vessels and work surfaces are required.
Meat packaging equipment includes vacuum packers, heat sealers, shrink wrapping, tray sealers, thermoform sealers, bag sealers and, at the end of the packing line, pallet wrappers. Plus, if you're looking for labelling machinery to complement packaging processes, you can find more information and PPMA exhibitors in the labelling machinery sector here.
Take a look at the processing and packaging machinery in thePPMA Show's Machinery Spotlight, with a variety of different machinery for a range of requirements.
See more about food packaging equipment.
Find PPMA Members supplying meat machinery
PPMA Members supply a wide variety of machinery for meat processing, including equipment in the following categories:
- Deboning and Trimming Lines
- Injection Machines (For Salt Brines and Marinades into Meat Products)
- Link Cutting Machines
- Meat Harvesters
- Meat Lacerating Machines
- Meat Massaging Machines
- Meat Processing Machines
- Meat Tenderising Machines
- Meat Tumbling Machines
- Poultry Processing Machines
- Pressing/Forming Machines
Multiple different types of meat machinery are available, and PPMA members and exhibitors at the annual PPMA Show provide hugely valuable insights into the equipment options for companies involved in processing meat products.
Find Meat Machinery Suppliers
See a full list of PPMA Member companies that supply a comprehensive range of meat machinery.