Injected and marinated fresh poultry products are gaining popularity as they have benefits for producers, resellers and consumers alike. But uncontrolled under or over injecting is undesirable and the requirements for product appearance are strict. To meet these challenges, GEA's line for fresh injecting in combination with (optional) marinating delivers impressive long-term brine retention, guarantees the smallest possible deviation and reduces brine and marinade losses. And it does all this while improving the product appearance and juiciness.

GEA Product Manager Willem Prinssen says, “Injecting more brine than allowed may lead to rejects or complaints from the retailer, while injecting less than allowed results in raw material 'give-away' and margin reduction. So the real challenge is to operate as close as possible to the upper specified limits with the smallest possible standard deviations. Requirements for products appearance are also strict. For example, 'drip-in-the-package' parameters are often specified by retail. Controlling brine distribution is therefore a critical factor, and the GEA solution overcomes all these issues”. The line is based on injection with a GEA YieldJector or GEA AccuJector. It also features GEA MultiShaker transport, micro massaging and product spreading equipment at the injector infeed and outfeed, a GEA ScanBrine for mixing, storing and managing brine and a GEA SuperChill brine chiller to contribute to consistent brine pick-up and quality.

Injecting fresh products

GEA injectors for fresh applications have very dense injection patterns, which leads to better brine retention. The needle-head features individual control of brine flow per needle, and needles retract individually when hitting bone, automatically stopping brine flow at that specific point. This optimizes brine distribution in the meat, around and even under bones, resulting in the smallest possible deviations and minimal drip. The injector uses sharp, small diameter OptiFlex needles that feature ‘bending memory’ (return to their original form after flexing) and are custom designed for bone-in and skin-on poultry parts. Injection marks disappear from the product, even on skin, when using OptiFlex needles. Once retracted, the thin channels close immediately, assuring the injected brine stays inside the product.

Smart yield control system

Reliable real-time yield measurement and control over process deviations is very important. Conventional techniques using weighing belts are expensive and inaccurate, so GEA uses a cost efficient solution for accurate yield measurement that measures yield by metering brine consumption rather than product weight. It is more accurate than weighing belts, and faster than a batch system with static weighing. 

Injecting bone-in and skin-on products

The line is also ideal for bone-in and skin-on poultry products as they present specific challenges for injection. Conventional thin needles may break or deform when they hit bone whereas larger diameters needles leave visible marks in the skin and can damage the bone. If processors choose for tumbling only, the products remain wet (spices won’t stick), brine absorption is superficial (lower yield and wider deviation) and marinade is wasted. With skin-on products, the skin inhibits brine absorption and any brine remaining on the product’s surface is lost in the subsequent heating processes. The GEA marination line also overcomes skin slip. 

Product spreading at the infeed and outfeed

Products enter the injector via a GEA MultiShaker, which is a vibrating, open transport system that avoids double layers to assure optimal standard deviation. No manual intervention is required after loading. At the injector outfeed, products are transported to the next process step using a second GEA MultiShaker that shakes off excess brine from the product surface, closes remaining needle marks in the skin and starts activation of protein. No loose brine enters the next process step and post-packaging drip loss is reduced. 

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