The pig population in Europe varies from light and lean pigs to heavy and rather fat pigs depending on the quality demands. 15 years ago the EU countries agreed on a common reference of the carcass quality defined by the lean meat content determined by dissection.

The lean meat content in all European pig carcasses has to be assessed using a measuring method with a given precision. The requirement in the EC Regulation focuses on the precision of the calibration.

The project contains a development of standards for assessing accuracy of the reference method and the different types of classification equipment, respectively.

A classification equipment is calibrated by means of a test sample of pig carcasses representing the population. Both the instrumental information and the lean meat content by dissection are collected and used to estimate the relationship between the instrument and the reference. In principle this is the way to calibrate every classification equipment. But the pig populations differ from country to country and the classification equipment are technologically different. Therefore, the procedures for sampling and calibration are not comparable. One objective is to develop harmonised procedures for these items.

The determination of lean meat content by dissection is very expensive and consequently alternative methods have been developed to reduce expense without reducing precision. But these methods are used to calibrate relatively simple classification equipment only. Therefore, an objective is to perform the research and make it possible to use cost effective methods to calibrate all known types of classification equipment.

There is a general wish to find an alternative reference, which is cheaper and preferably as precise as the primary reference. Investigations will be done to examine if it is possible.

After implementation in the industry, the monitoring of the pig classification has been done on a national level. Standardised procedures to monitor pig classification will be developed to improve the reliability of the current classifications.

Shortly, the project will improve methodologies to measure, test and monitor the carcass quality throughout the EU. The technical part of the project consists of three workpackages:

WP1:     Determine the accuracy of the present reference and most of the classification equipment in use and develop procedures to monitor the classification.

WP2:     Solve the main statistical problems encountered in the application of the EC Regulations in the scope of pig classification resulting in methodologies and statistical software.

WP3:     Develop indirect methods of predicting the lean meat percentage of a pig carcass that are highly correlated with the reference dissection method resulting in a recommendation.

Workshops will be arranged to raise the theoretical level and to disseminate the outcome. The workshops will be open for scientists and practitioners from all European countries. By means of newsletters the results will currently be transferred to the users - the meat and instrument industry.