Raw poultry and meat can be among the most challenging products when it comes to food processing, especially when it comes to achieving uniformity of weights while at the same time ensuring the highest levels of hygiene and food safety. JBT’s VAC CAT Product Metering System is a solution especially developed to deliver uniform feeding and metering of these products that includes innovations to minimize product damage and ensure the highest quality.
Metering by weight is a key feature of the VAC CAT and one which can be applied effectively to notoriously difficult to handle products, from marinated chicken wings to breast fillets and tenders. Crucially, the system ensures the highest quality and gentle product handling through a combination of eliminating valves and sharp edges, and by pumping at a lower speed – though still at high capacity – than other vacuum methods.
According to Dustan Atkinson, General Manager for Primary Segment products at JBT/CAT, the system delivers a consistent and reliable flow of products across the width of a conveyor by bringing together a vacuum pump with density-based separation, transportation piping, dual hopper metering with load cells, a Product Distribution System (PDS) and a takeaway conveyor.
“The main products transported by the VAC CAT are breast meat, fillets, tenders and segmented wings – typically in a marinade – which are pulled from a hopper, sucked up a vacuum tube, measured out and dropped on a conveyor,” Atkinson explains.
The VAC CAT features a highly accurate double scaling system to ensure a consistent product weight, as well as a stainless steel construction for effective hygiene. Importantly, the VAC CAT’s pound per hour system helps maintain a steady flow of products at an optimum speed. “If you have product feeding into a typical system at 10,000 pounds per hour, the danger is that if it slows down you overcook everything or if it goes too fast it comes out raw and undercooked, and you can’t sell it,” says Atkinson. “The VAC CAT helps dictate exactly how many pounds you need to feed through a given freezer or cooker to maintain its set parameters to run at its best.”
The Product Distribution System (PDS) receives the product from the VAC CAT and meters it out – over a series of rollers that increase in speed to help separate the product downstream – onto the customer’s existing belt. Through this metering system, the customer is able to achieve a more even flow of product and reduce the need for extra personnel before entering a freezer or fryer, Atkinson adds.