Breakthrough technology for accelerated dry-curing of sliced meat products

"QDS process" is a revolutionary accelerated drying process for sliced meat products which is applied directly after the fermentation step to the sliced product, and prior to the final long and dilated drying phase. This innovative process results in drastically reduced total processing time, thereby eliminating interminable periods of time in the chamber, simplifying the production process and obtaining significantly improved energy efficiency.

  • Improvement of regularity in product quality
  • Higher degree of food safety
  • Reduction of the risk product quality
  • More flexible Research & Development process
  • Possibility of developing new product shapes other than the traditional round one
  • Avoids formation of a mold cover
  • Better color of the final product
  • Less space requirements
  • Reduced stock

System:

QDS PROCESS OPERATION In the QDS (Quick-Dry-Slice) process, the frozen slices previously fermented, undergo a quick tempering drying phase at controlled temperature and humidity, followed by a drying & maturing phase in a modified atmosphere with controlled temperature, resulting in a final meat product, ready to market (Vacuum or Modified Atmosphere Packaging previous), of homogeneous texture and properties, microbiologically stable and of high organoleptic quality.

STAGES OF THE PROCESS Slicing zone: In this zone the bars of the frozen product are sliced and, by means of a set of conveyors, the slices are distributed on a perforated plastic tray on which the entire drying process takes place. The tray incorporates an RFID tag that provides for its identification without contact. Each tray is weighed on-line at the beginning and again once it has been loaded with slices, thereby obtaining the initial net weight.

Convective-drying zone: The loaded trays are carried automatically by the conveyors to the lower level of a first drying tunnel. Once the level has been completely loaded, it ascends, leaving the lower level free to receive new trays. In its upward path through the tunnel, the tray receives a lateral flow of air at a controlled temperature and humidity, which dries the slices. Once the trays have reached the upper level, they are automatically transferred to an upper level of a second tunnel, where the drying process is completed in a descending path until reaching the same level as the inlet. During the process of being transferred between tunnels, the trays are weighed again, so that their weight loss can be calculated midway through the process. Since regulation of the two tunnels is carried out independently, knowing the weight at this point allows for correcting the drying conditions if necessary.

Accumulator-Cooler: At the output end of the QDS process® drying tunnels, the trays loaded with the product go through this zone where they receive a flow of cold air that quickly reduces the temperature of the slices, adapting them to the conditions for packaging. The accumulation tower can accept short stoppages of the thermoformer (changes of film, etc…) without altering the drying process time.

Packaging zone: Final weighing takes place at the accumulator outlet and the definitive percentage of weight loss is obtained. Then, a gantry robot removes the slices from the processing tray and places them on a conveyor to be fed into the overlapping and package formation system. The configuration of this zone is totally variable depending on the packaging format, the space available and the degree of automation desired. It typically consists of a system for overlapping the slices and formation of the portion to be packaged by means of mobile band or round belt conveyors and a system for placing the portions in the thermoformer forms, by hand, conveyor belts or robots.

Air conditioners: The air conditioners in the QDS line are intelligent elements that automatically regulate the mixture of outer air and recirculate it. They provide a typical reduction in energy consumption in temperate zones of about 30 % compared to conventional drying. In addition, they are equipped with refrigerating and heating capacity, along with the HEPA filtering system.

Zone for washing, storage and transport of the trays: During the normal working cycle, once they have been unloaded, the trays are transported by a system of conveyors to a washing, sanitation and drying tunnel, usually located in an adjacent room. From there, the clean trays are carried again by a system of conveyors to the slicing zone, where the cycle begins again. If stoppage occurs in the slicing zone or at the end of the day for the purpose of cleaning the entire line, a gantry robot collects the clean trays and deposits them in piles on a storage conveyor, where they remain until they are needed again in the slicing zone.

Production Capacity:

Orientative Production Capacity Standard model: 400 kg/h for products with 30 minutes drying time, 80 mm. diameter and 1.5 mm fermented product slice thickness. For more information or other production capacities, please consult with Nu-Meat.

1 Metalquimia Qds Process