Title:
Mechanical deboning of meat from animals
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus and a process for extracting beef, pork or lamb meat from crushed and dismembered beef, pork or lamb pieces is provided. The extracting method is based on mechanical separation utilizing heated water spray within a rotating drum assembly for removal and separation of meat from bone and collagen. The water is collected, pumped into a holding tank, and may be flavored with natural meat flavor extract and antifoam agent for recycle within the process. The apparatus includes a hopper, an inclined rotating drum assembly having perforated or slotted walls and an internally located nozzle dispensing a water spray for separating meat from bones, a tank having at least one water jet for separating meat from bone fragments, a vibrating dewatering apparatus for separating meat from the water, and a recircualtion system for collection, reheating, and re-using the solution of water and optionally, flavor extract. The apparatus provides bone free beef, pork or lamb that retains the natural meat flavor and has a low bacterial count because the process is performed in 170° F. water solution.



Inventors:
Fulcher, Garland Christopher (Oriental, NC, US)
Lubkin Jr., Walter Franklin (Beaufort, SC, US)
Application Number:
11/389419
Publication Date:
04/05/2007
Filing Date:
03/24/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A23B4/20; A23L13/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
SMITH, PRESTON
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
John B. Hardaway, III (Greenville, SC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. An apparatus for extracting meat from crushed or dismembered beef, pork or lamb pieces comprising: conveying pieces into a hopper; conveying pieces from said hopper to a drum assembly for receiving said fractured shells, said drum assembly comprising: a rotating drum having a plurality of perforations therein; a nozzle for pressurized dispersion of a solution in warm water into the drum to separate said meat from bones; a separation assembly operatively connected to said drum assembly for receiving said meat and said solution, said separation assembly segregating said meat from said solution; a solution holding tank fluidically connected to said separation assembly for receiving said solution from said separation assembly and from said drum assembly, and for supplying said solution to said drum assembly; and means for transporting said solution from said separation assembly to said holding tank, and from said holding tank to said drum assembly.

2. The apparatus for extracting meat as recited in claim 1, wherein said holding tank further comprises a heating element capable of warming said solution to a temperature of approximately 170° F.

3. The apparatus for extracting meat as recited in claim 1, wherein said drum assembly is inclined, with a first elevated end associated with said means for conveying pieces from said hopper and a second lower end operatively associated with said separation assembly.

4. The apparatus for extracting meat as recited in claim 1, wherein said perforations in said rotating drum are holes of approximately 0.25 inch in diameter.

5. The apparatus for extracting meat as recited in claim 1 wherein said perforations in said rotating drums are slots of approximately 0.025 inch in width.

6. The apparatus for extracting meat as recited in claim 1, wherein said nozzle is positioned inside said rotating drum, and said drum assembly further comprises a sluice jacket positioned around a lower portion of said rotating drum, said sluice jacket collecting meat pieces and solution passed through said perforations in said drum.

7. The apparatus for extracting meat as recited in claim 6, wherein said sluice tank further comprises a grooved inclined surface for allowing a continuous flow of said meat and said solution across said surface from a first elevated end to a second lower end of said sluice tank.

8. The apparatus for extracting meat as recited in claim 1, wherein said solution holding tank further comprises a means for dispensing meat flavor extract into said solution holding tank.

9. A process for extracting meat from crushed and dismembered beef, pork and lamb pieces comprising the steps of: depositing crushed and dismembered pieces into a hopper; washing said pieces with a water solution; removing said meat from bone material; segregating said separated meat and said solution from said bone material; separating said meat from said solution; collecting said solution; and re-circulating said solution from said collecting step to said washing step.

10. The process for extracting meat as recited in claim 9, wherein said washing step comprises washing said bones and said meat with a solution heated to approximately 170° F.

11. The process for extracting meat as recited in claim 9, wherein said meat removing step further comprises providing a drum assembly, said drum assembly receiving said bones and said meat from said washing step.

12. The process for extracting meat as recited in claim 11, wherein said meat removing step further comprises: providing a rotating drum; providing a nozzle inside said rotating drum; and providing a solution to said nozzle, wherein said nozzle directs said solution at said beef, pork or lamb pieces.

13. The process for extracting meat as recited in claim 12, wherein the step of providing a rotating drum further comprises providing walls of said drum having a plurality of holes of approximately 0.25 inch diameter, wherein said nozzle directs said solution at said pieces and said meat, forcing said solution and said meat through said holes, said solution and said meat exiting said rotating drum.

14. The process for extracting meat as recited in claim 12, wherein the step of providing a rotating drum further comprises providing walls of said drum having a plurality of slots having a width of about 0.025 inch diameter, wherein said nozzle directs said solution at said meat pieces and said meat, forcing said solution and said meat through said holes, said solution and said meat exiting said rotating drum.

15. The process for extracting meat as recited in claim 9, wherein said segregating step further comprises: providing a first step having a first tank receiving said meat, said bone pieces and said solution from said removing step; providing a sluice tank, said sluice tank receiving said meat and said solution from said bone pieces; and providing a second separating step having a second tank receiving said meat and said solution from said step of providing said sluice tank.

16. The process for extracting meat as recited in claim 15, wherein said second separating step further comprises separation said solution by the steps of: reciprocating a perforated pan containing meat and solution; vibrating a screen, said screen collecting meat; and providing a container underneath said vibrating screen, said container collecting solution.

17. The process for extracting meat as recited in claim 9, wherein said re-circulating step further comprises: collecting solution for said washing step, said removing step, said segregating step, said separating step, and said collection step; provide piping for distributing said solution to a holding tank; reheating said solution in said tank to at least 170° F.; optionally mixing meat flavor extract into said reheated solution; and dispensing said reheated solution to said meat removing step.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION

This application is a continuation-in-part of co-pending application Ser. No. 11/243,557, filed Oct. 5, 2005.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to the art of removing meat from cooked parts of animals, especially beef and pork, and more particularly to an apparatus and process for cleaning and separating meat from the bone, gristle and cartilage.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Conventional extractors and extraction processes exist which provide methods for removal of meat from butchered domestic animals such as cattle, swine and goat, typically these sections of meat and bone are removed during butchering and dressing, with varying success and varying labor requirements.

Mechanical processes for separating meat from bone may use processes that crush and extrude meat. U.S. Pat. No. 4,953,794 to Paoli uses an auger to separate meat from bone, sinew and cartilage under pressure.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,813,909 to Goldston uses an auger to force meat from bone using slots with sharp edges to scrape meat from bone and pass the scrapings outside the separation chambers.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,132,304 to Aarts et al. uses a piston to force meat mass through apertures in the compression cylinder wall.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,354,933 to Archambault et al. uses one or more hydraulically controlled knife and multiple holding means to slice meat from long bones only.

Prior art devices are adequate for their intended function, but room exists for other devices which will provide a process for removing and cleaning the meat from bone while preserving the natural flavor, reducing fat and preventing microbial growth.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the invention to provide an apparatus that efficiently removes meat from bones, providing bone free beef, pork, lamb and other meats.

It is a further object of the invention to provide a process that removes meat from bones utilizing a heated water spray.

It is a further and more particular object of the invention to provide an apparatus that provides a mechanical separation of meat from bone particles.

It is yet a further and more particular object of the invention to provide a separation process that retains the flavor of the meat.

It is an additional object of this invention to provide a separation process that produces boneless meat with a low bacterial count.

It is an additional and more particular object of this invention to provide a separation process that utilizes re-circulated, heated water.

It is a further and additional object of this invention to provide a separation process that operates with no significant wastage of water.

It is an additional object to provide a separation process that utilizes heated water that contains natural meat flavor extract.

These and other objects of the invention are accomplished with an apparatus for separating meat from bone comprising a rotating drum, a water spray process, a separator tank, a horizontal sluice, and a dewatering process. The water spray process provides heated, pressurized, water for separating meat from bones, with recovery and re-circulation of the heated water.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic side elevation of the components of this invention operatively.

FIG. 2 is a plan view of the components of this invention.

FIG. 3 is a schematic side elevation of the rotating drum according to this invention.

FIG. 4A is a plan view of the heated water recycle tank according to this invention.

FIG. 4B is a side elevation of the heated water recycle tank according to this invention.

FIG. 5A is a schematic plan view of the first separation tank and horizontal sluice tank.

FIG. 5B is a side elevation of the first separation tank and horizontal sluice tank.

FIG. 6A is a schematic plan view of the second separation tank and the reciprocating pan.

FIG. 6B is a schematic side elevation plan view of the optional second separation tank and the reciprocating pan.

FIG. 7A is a schematic plan view of the vibrating de-watering screen, separated meat catch pan, and water catch basin.

FIG. 7B is a schematic side elevation view of the vibrating de-watering screen, separated meat catch pan, and water catch basin.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In accordance with this invention, it has been found that an improved method of extracting cooked beef, pork, lamb and other meats is attained by the utilization of heated water spray and mechanical separation methods for producing a bone free semi-cooked meat product. It has been found that separation of meat from bone is accomplished with the meat retaining its natural beef, pork or lamb flavor while having a low bacterial count which is important for high volume prepared meats products. Various other advantages and features of this invention will become apparent from a reading of the following description given with reference to the various figures.

FIG. 1 is a side elevation schematic of the components of the invention. Cooked, separated beef, pork or lamb parts which include carcass parts after commercially valuable sections have been excised (the manner of cooking is immaterial) are conveyed warm or hot via suitable conveying means 3 into hopper 7. At the base of hopper 7 is a means 5 for conveying parts out of hopper 7 into a rotating drum 9.

Inside the rotating drum 9 are a plurality of water spray nozzles 13 (FIG. 2 and FIG. 3) connected to a central high pressure distribution pipe 14 located in the upper area of the inside of the rotating drum 9. Nozzle 13 and distribution pipe 14 receive heated water from a main holding tank 35 that provides water heated to at least 170° F. (76.5° C.). Jets 13 dispense heated water onto the meat carrying bone pieces within the rotating drum 9. Jets 13 separate the bones from the meat pieces by pressure washing the meat from the bone. The washed bones move down the inclined rotating drum 9 while beef, pork or lamb pieces and water pass through perforations of about 0.25 inches in the rotating drum 9 (FIG. 3). Optionally, slots with a width of 0.025 inch may be included or substituted. The bones without the separated meat pieces are rotated down the inclined drum 9 for delivery into a waste container.

The meat, heated water and small fragments of bone are pushed through inclined drum 9 into jacket 16 and flowed out into tank 17. Bones and other debris are rotated to the end of drum 9 and pass by gravity into container 12. Meat settles, with small bone fragments, if present, to the bottom of tank 17 where the pieces are pushed under separator 18 into tank 19, where turbulent water lifts the pieces onto rippled sluice 21 over collecting tank 22. Bone fragments are deposited at the bottom of the ripples while less dense beef or pork meat passes down the sluice.

The separated meat and heated water mixture may be directed to a second separation tank 23 if small, light-weight filament or bone pieces remain in the tank which has a vibrating perforated pan 25 that is reciprocated up and down by conventional mechanical activators 24. The separated meat pieces are forced through the perforations in the perforated pan 25 by the up and down reciprocating motions of the pan 25. Any very light weight bone or filament pieces fail to pass through the perforations and remain in the perforated pan 25. The water passes through into a deep catch basin 31.

Heavier bone portions, especially from beef cattle, are present only rarely after the previous first separation step and large pieces of meat would remain in the finished product. In this embodiment, a trough may be placed at the end of sluice 21 and the products sent directly to a dewatering screen.

Meat pieces that pass through the reciprocating pan or from the earlier separation step are directed by water flow onto the aforementioned vibrated dewatering screen. Water passing through the screen is returned to heater tank 35. The water collected in collection pan 31 is pumped to a main holding tank 35.

The solid meat vibrates off of the dewatering screen and is caught in a perforated tray. The trays of meat are sent on for further processing or packaging.

The water in holding tank 35 is maintained at approximately 170° F. by steam heating or other appropriate methods for heating water. In the holding tank 35, an optional flavor extract may be mixed with the heated water to provide a constant supply of re-circulating water that contains a natural extract flavor or other flavor enhancing additives. An anti-foaming agent should be added intermittently to the heated water to reduce the foam produced during pumping and circulation.

Means including pumps and gravity provide re-circulation of the heated water and anti-foaming agent after collection at water collection points along the process. Collection of the water allows for constant re-circulation and re-use of the water, minimizing loss of anti-foaming agent and flavor. Any standard plumbing components may be added to the invention. For example, valves and flow meters could be used to control and balance the flow of water in the system.

The addition of natural flavor extract and flavor enhancers to the heated water permits the retention of natural beef, pork and lamb flavor during extraction of the meat from bones and during the process to remove cartilage and other sinewy components. The heated water with natural extract and anti-foaming agent is re-circulated to the water bath, the rotating drum, water jets, water tank, and to separation water tank, providing a constant flow of heated water and natural flavor extract for extracting and processing the meat pieces. Temperature in the water is preferably maintained above 170° Fahrenheit to keep dissolved fat in the aqueous phase.

For the apparatus and process of the present invention, the use of heated water 10 of approximately 170° F., preferably, is maintained throughout the process. It also provides for reduction of bacteria in the water. The beef, pork and lamb processed by the present invention provides low plate counts of bacteria when tested by standard industry procedures. The low bacteria plate count of meat, processed by the current invention, typifies diminished residual bacteria in the meat, especially L. monocytogenes, and Eschericia coli., dangerous and FDA controlled contaminants in processed meats. The pressure of E.coli in ground and processed beef, for example, has resulted in well-publicized recalls of tons of beef.

It is thus seen that the invention provides for an apparatus and a process for separation of beef, pork and lamb from bones. The process separates the meat from the bone, cleans the separated meat pieces with heated water with minimal loss of meat flavor, and provides for a recycle of the heated water. Many variations will undoubtedly become apparent to one skilled in the art upon a reading of the above specification with reference to the drawings. The process may be adapted to the source—beef cattle, pork or lamb—and size of bones being processed. Hammer mills or crushers may be added to the front end of the line. Hole sizes and slot sizes are adjusted for beef, pork, lamb or other meats. Inspection belts for quality control and government inspection maybe added as required. As the foregoing description is exemplary in nature, the spirit and scope of the appended claims should not be limited to the description.