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Title:
FOOD PROCESSING APPARATUS AND CORRESPONDING FOOD PROCESSING METHOD
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2020/212246
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The invention concerns a food processing apparatus for processing food products (1, 2), in particular meat products, having a press (5) for pressing the food products (1, 2) with specific pressing parameters and a control unit (9) which is connected on its output side to the press (5) and sets the pressing parameters. The invention additionally comprises a first analyzing device (4) for analyzing the food products (1) before pressing and for generating corresponding first analysis parameters of the food products (1), wherein the first analysis parameters represent product properties of the analyzed food product. The control unit (9) is connected to the first analyzing device (4) and sets the pressing parameters depending on the first analysis parameters.

Inventors:
BURKHALTER HEINZ (CH)
Application Number:
EP2020/060159
Publication Date:
October 22, 2020
Filing Date:
April 09, 2020
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
PROVISUR TECH INC (US)
International Classes:
A22C7/00
Foreign References:
EP0373844A11990-06-20
US20170212506A12017-07-27
DE10220006A12003-11-20
US8166856B22012-05-01
DE10220006A12003-11-20
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
V. BEZOLD & PARTNER PATENTANWÄLTE - PARTG MBB (DE)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. Food processing apparatus for processing food products (1, 2), in particular meat products, with

a) a press (5) for pressing the food products (1, 2) according to predetermined pressing pa rameters,

b) a control unit (9) which is connected on its output side to the press (5) and adjusts the pressing parameters,

characterized in that

c) a first analyzing device (4) is provided for analyzing the food products (1) before pressing and for generating corresponding first analysis parameters of the food products (1), the first analysis parameters representing product properties of the analyzed food product, and d) the control unit (9) is connected on its input side to the first analyzing device (4) and re ceives the first analysis parameters and sets the pressing parameters as a function of the first analysis parameters.

2. Food processing apparatus according to claim 1, characterized in that the control unit (9) sets at least one of the following pressing parameters:

a) Maximum pressing force ( FMAX) in at least one pressing axis, preferably in three pressing axes which are aligned transversely to one another,

b) pressing travel (XHUB) in at least one pressing axis, preferably in three pressing axes, which are aligned transversely to one another,

c) pressing time (THUB),

d) pressing force-time curve (11, 11') which represents the course of the pressing force ( FPRESS) as a function of the pressing time (t) in at least one pressing axis, preferably in three press ing axes which are aligned transversely to one another,

e) pressing travel-time curve (10, 10') which represents the course of the pressing travel (x) as a function of the pressing time (t) in at least one pressing axis, preferably in three pressing axes which are aligned transversely to one another,

f) overall behaviour model of the pressing axes,

g) massaging parameters for massaging the food products (1) during pressing.

3. Food processing apparatus according to claim 2, characterized in that a) the control unit (9) determines an actual shape of the food products (1) from the first anal ysis parameters before pressing,

b) the control unit (9) determines from the determined actual shape of the food products (1) before pressing and a predetermined desired target shape a required degree of defor mation which is required in order to press the food product from the actual shape into the target shape,

c) the control unit (9) sets at least one pressing parameter as a function of the required de gree of deformation, in particular the pressing duration and/or the pressing speed, so that the food products (1, 2) with a large degree of deformation are deformed more gently than the food products (1, 2) with a small degree of deformation.

4. Food processing apparatus according to one of the preceding claims, characterized in that a) a second analyzing device (6) is provided for analyzing the food products (2) after pressing and for generating corresponding second analysis parameters of the food products (2), the second analysis parameters representing product properties of the pressed food product (2), and

b) the control unit (9) is connected on its input side to the second analyzing device (6) and receives the second analysis parameters and sets the pressing parameters as a function of the second analysis parameters.

5. Food processing apparatus according to claim 4, characterized in that

a) the control unit (9) uses the second analysis parameters to analyse whether the pressed food product (2) has been altered as desired or undesired by the preceding pressing opera tion, by

al) a fragmentation of the food product (2); or

a2) a fracture of the bone in the food product (2); or

a3) the formation of a brow (2) or

a4) the shaping of the product shape into the corners,

a5) shape accuracy according to the form set used in the press,

a6) relaxation of the product after pressing, and

b) the control unit (9) adapts the pressing parameters if the pressed food product has been altered in an undesired form, in particular broken, by the preceding pressing operation.

6. Food processing apparatus according to one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the first analyzing device (4) and/or the second analyzing device (6) comprises a scanner, in par ticular an optical scanner or an X-ray scanner, which scans the food products (1, 2) and preferably determines at least one of the following product properties:

a) Length of the food product (1, 2),

b) width of the food product (1, 2),

c) height of the food product (1, 2),

d) volume of the food product (1, 2),

e) shape of the food product (1, 2),

f) fat content of the food product (1, 2),

g) bone content of the food product (1, 2),

h) lean meat content of the food product (1, 2),

i) bone volume of the food product (1, 2)

j) bone form of the food product (1, 2),

k) presence of a brow of the food product (1, 2).

7. Food processing apparatus according to one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the first analyzing device (4) and/or the second analyzing device (6) comprises a temperature measuring device which measures the temperature of the food products (1, 2) as a product prop erty.

8. Food processing apparatus according to one of the preceding claims,

characterized by

a) a slicing device (7) for cutting the pressed food products (1, 2) after pressing, and/or b) a packaging device (8) for packaging the food products (1, 2) after pressing and preferably after cutting, in particular for placing the food products (2) in trays, in particular as a ther moformer, and/or

c) a conveying device (3) for conveying the food products (1, 2) along a conveying path, in particular successively through the first analyzing device (4), through the press (5), through the second analyzing device (6), through the slicing device (7) and into the packaging device (8).

9. Food processing apparatus according to claim 8, characterized in that a) the slicing device (7) and/or the packaging device (8) transmits desired specifications for the product properties to the control unit (9), in particular the desired target shape of the food products (1, 2), and

b) the control unit (9) sets the pressing parameters as a function of the target specifications.

10. Food processing apparatus in accordance with one of the preceding claims,

characterized in that

a) the control unit (9) is connected on the input side to the press (5) and receives feedback from the press (5) in the form of pressing parameters,

b) the control unit (9) calculates from the pressing parameters reported back by the press (5) a product parameter which represents characteristics of the pressed product (2), c) the product parameter preferably reflects

cl) the product strength of the pressed product (2),

c2) the degree of freezing of the pressed product (2),

c3) the viscosity of the pressed product (2) or

c4) the percentage of the frozen part of the pressed product (2) or

c5) the percentage of the unfrozen part of the pressed product (2).

11. Food processing apparatus in accordance with one of the preceding claims,

characterized in that

a) the first analyzing device (4) is a scanner (4) and the first analysis parameters reflect the size of the incoming food products (1),

b) the press (5) comprises a pressing chamber (13) in which the products (1) are pressed, wherein the pressing chamber (13) can be opened with an adjustable degree of opening (dl, d2) to receive one of the products (1) for subsequent pressing of the product (1), and c) the control unit (9) controls the degree of opening (dl, d2) of the pressing chamber (13) according to the size of the product (1) as determined by the scanner (4), so that the press ing chamber (13) opens relatively wide for receiving a large product (1), while the pressing chamber (13) opens relatively little for receiving a small product (1).

12. Food processing method, in particular for processing meat products, comprising the follow ing steps:

a) Pressing the food products (1) with predetermined pressing parameters,

characterized by the following steps: b) analyzing the food products (1) prior to pressing and generating corresponding first analysis parameters of the food products (1, 2), wherein the first analysis parameters represent product properties of the analyzed food product prior to pressing, and

c) setting the pressing parameters as a function of the first analysis parameters.

13. Food processing method according to claim 12, characterized in that at least one of the following pressing parameters is set:

a) Maximum pressing force ( FMAX) in at least one pressing axis, preferably in three pressing axes, which are aligned transversely to one another,

b) pressing travel (XHUB) in at least one pressing axis, preferably in three pressing axes, which are aligned transversely to one another,

c) pressing time (THUB),

d) pressing force-time curve (11, 11') which represents the course of the pressing force ( FPRESS) as a function of the pressing time in at least one pressing axis, preferably in three pressing axes which are aligned transversely to one another,

e) Pressing travel-time curve (10, 10') which represents the course of the pressing travel (x) as a function of the pressing time (t) in at least one pressing axis, preferably in three pressing axes which are aligned transversely to one another,

f) Overall behaviour model of the pressing axes,

g) Massaging parameters for massaging the food products (1) during pressing.

14. Food processing method according to claim 13,

characterized by the following steps:

a) determining an actual shape of the food products (1, 2) before pressing by evaluating the first analysis parameters,

b) specification of a desired target shape of the food products (1, 2),

c) determination of a required degree of deformation for forming the food products (1, 2) from the actual shape into the target shape,

d) setting at least one pressing parameter as a function of the required degree of defor

mation, in particular the pressing duration and/or the pressing speed, so that the food products (1, 2) with a high degree of deformation are deformed more gently than the food products (1, 2) with a low degree of deformation.

15. Food processing method in accordance with any of claims 12 to 14, characterized by the following steps:

a) analyzing said food products (2) after pressing and generating corresponding second analy sis parameters of said food products (1, 2), said second analysis parameters representing product characteristics of said pressed food product, and

b) adjustment of the pressing parameters as a function of the second analysis parameters.

16. Food processing method according to claim 15, characterized by the following steps:

a) analysis of the second analysis parameters and determination of whether the pressed food product (2) is altered in a desired or desired form by the preceding pressing operation, in particular by

al) a fragmentation of the food product (2); or

a2) a fracture of the bone in the food product (2); or

a3) the formation of a brow (2) or

a4) forming of the product shape into the corners

a5) shape accuracy according to the forming set used in the press,

a6) relaxation of the product after pressing, and

b) Adjusting the pressing parameters if the pressed food product (2) has been broken by the previous pressing operation. 17. Food processing method according to any of claims 12 to 16, characterized in that the first analysis parameters and/or the second analysis parameters represent at least one of the follow ing product properties:

a) length of the food product (1, 2),

b) width of the food product (1, 2),

c) height of the food product (1, 2),

d) volume of the food product (1, 2),

e) shape of the food product (1, 2),

f) fat content of the food product (1, 2),

g) bone content of the food product (1, 2),

h) lean meat content of the food product (1, 2),

i) bone volume of the food product (1, 2),

j) bone shape of the food product (1, 2),

k) temperature of the food product (1, 2)

L) brow on food product (1, 2), m) force-displacement / e-module measurement on the food product (1, 2), n) Relaxation of the food product (1, 2) after pressing.

18. Food processing method according to any of claims 12 to 17,

characterized by the following steps:

a) cutting the food products (2) by means of a slicing device into slices after pressing and pref erably also after determining the second analysis parameters after pressing, and/or b) packaging the pressed food products (2) by means of a packaging device after pressing and preferably also after slicing.

19. Food processing method according to claim 18, characterized in that

a) the slicing device (7) and/or the packaging device output desired specifications for the product properties, in particular the desired target shape of the food products (1, 2), and b) the pressing parameters are set as a function of the desired specifications of the slicing device (7) and/or the packaging device (8).

20. Food processing method according to any of claims 12 to 19,

characterized in that

a) the first analyzing device (4) is a scanner (4) and the first analysis parameters reflect the size of the incoming food products (1),

b) the press (5) comprises a pressing chamber (13) in which the products (1) are pressed, wherein the pressing chamber (13) can be opened with an adjustable degree of opening (dl, d2) to receive one of the products (1) for subsequent pressing of the product (1), and c) the control unit (9) controls the degree of opening (dl, d2) of the pressing chamber (13) according to the size of the product (1) as determined by the scanner (4), so that the press ing chamber (13) opens relatively wide for receiving a large product (1), while the pressing chamber (13) opens relatively little for receiving a small product.

Description:
DESCRIPTION

Food processing apparatus and

corresponding food processing method

The invention concerns a food processing apparatus and a corresponding food processing method for processing food products, such as meat products.

In industrial meat production, pieces of meat from a cutting plant are cut into portions and then packaged. Furthermore, it is known from the state of the art that the pieces of meat are pressed before cutting, which significantly enhances the subsequent cutting and packaging. For example, pressing the usually irregularly shaped pieces of meat from the cutting plant results in a regular product shape, which can be block-shaped, for example. This considerably reduces cutting losses due to cuts and end cuts during the subsequent slicing process. Pressing the pieces of meat be fore slicing thus increases the product yield during slicing. In addition, cutting portions to a pre defined weight, creating a desired portion size and presenting them in the package is improved by pressing.

A problem with this well-known pressing is the fact that the pieces of meat from the cutting plant vary greatly in shape, size, weight and composition (flesh, fat, bone, gristle). The range of varia tion of the pieces of meat arriving from the cutting plant must therefore be taken into account when pressing the pieces of meat. The so-called dynamic pressing is known from the state of the art. The pieces of meat are pressed in a pressing chamber in three pressing axes, whereby the pressing process can be adjusted with regard to the pressing force, the pressing speed, the press ing travel and the pressing travel profile (pressing travel-time characteristic) in order to achieve an optimum pressing result. During pressing in particular, the longitudinal and vertical axes com municate via the meat product in terms of pressure. The vertical axis adapts its pressing travel profile to the pressure and expansion of the meat product. Usually, certain pressing parameters for a product category (e.g. raw ham) are optimized and then maintained during the subsequent pressing of the products of this product category.

Flowever, the problem with this well-known dynamic press is the fact that meat products in the same product category also have a considerable variation in shape, size, weight and composition (flesh, fat, bone, gristle), whereas meat products in the same product category are pressed with constant pressing parameters. If, for example, a meat product is particularly large, pressing with the specified pressing parameters can lead to the breaking of bones in the meat product, which is undesirable.

Finally, reference is made to US 8 166 856 B2 and DE 102 20 006 A1 regarding the technological background of the invention.

The invention is therefore based on the task of achieving better results when pressing food prod ucts (e.g. meat products) in industrial food production.

This task is solved by a food processing apparatus in accordance with the invention or by a food processing method in accordance with the invention in accordance with the independent claims.

The food processing apparatus according to the invention initially has a press in accordance with the state of the art to press food products with certain pressing parameters (e.g. pressing force, pressing travel, pressing travel profiles).

In addition, the food processing apparatus according to the invention has a control unit which is connected to the press on the output side and sets the pressing parameters of the press so that the pressing process is carried out in accordance with the specified pressing parameters.

The food processing apparatus according to the invention is characterized by a first analyzing de vice (e.g. scanner), which analyzes the food product before pressing and generates corresponding first analysis parameters, whereby the first analysis parameters reflect product properties of the analyzed food product.

The control unit is connected on the input side with the first analyzing device and receives the first analysis parameters, while the control unit sets the pressing parameters depending on the first analysis parameters.

In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the control unit can set the maximum pressing force with which the respective food product is pressed as the pressing parameter. The maximum pressing force can be set in a single pressing axis. Preferably, however, the maximum pressing force is specified in three pressing axes which are aligned transversely to each other, in particular at right angles to each other. However, it is also possible within the scope of the invention that the press has a rotary mechanism so that the various pressing axes are not perpendicular to each other.

Furthermore, within the scope of the invention, it is possible for the control unit to set the press ing travel in at least one pressing axis as a pressing parameter. The term "pressing travel" or "forming travel" does not refer to the pressing travel of press jaws. Rather, the term pressing travel in the context of the invention refers to the pressing travel performed by the pressed food product itself. Here, too, the pressing travel can be specified in a single pressing axis. Preferably, however, the pressing travel is specified in three pressing axes which are aligned transversely to each other, in particular at right angles to each other.

The invention also offers the possibility of setting the pressing time as the pressing parameter, i.e. the duration of a pressing process. For example, with a low degree of forming, the pressing time may be very short, i.e. the pressing process takes place very quickly, which enables a high product throughput. With a high degree of forming, on the other hand, it may be necessary to press rela tively slowly, i.e. with a long pressing time. This reduces the product throughput, but prevents the food product from being damaged, e.g. by breaking the product or breaking a bone in the food product.

Furthermore, the invention also offers the possibility of massaging the food products during pressing. It is also possible to press in stages.

In addition, the invention also offers the possibility of specifying a pressing force-time curve as a pressing parameter, which shows the course of the pressing force as a function of the pressing time in at least one pressing axis. Here, too, it is possible that the pressing force-time curve is only specified in a single pressing axis. Preferably, however, the pressing force-time curve is specified in three pressing axes which are aligned transversely to each other, in particular at right angles to each other.

For example, the press result can also be improved by setting a comprehensive behavior model of the pressing axes and not a fixed profile, e.g. that the height gives way to a certain behavior when pressing with the length. Furthermore, certain food products are massaged with force. This allows considerable improvements to be achieved in the shaping of the product.

In addition, it is also possible for the control unit to set a pressing travel-time curve as a pressing parameter, which shows the course of the pressing travel in relation to the pressing time in at least one pressing axis. Here, too, it is preferably intended that the pressing travel-time curve is specified in three pressing axes which are aligned transversely to each other, in particular at right angles to each other.

In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the control unit determines an actual shape of the food products from the first analysis parameters before pressing. In addition, the control unit receives a desired target shape of the food products as input information, whereby the desired target shape can be specified, for example, by a downstream slicing device or by a downstream packaging device. The control unit then preferably determines from the specified target shape and from the determined actual shape of the respective food product the degree of deformation required to press the food product from the actual shape into the desired target shape. It has already been briefly mentioned above that with a high degree of deformation there is a risk that the food product will be damaged, for example by a bone fracture in the food product. The con trol unit can prevent such damage to the food product by adjusting the pressing parameters de pending on the degree of deformation required. For example, the pressing time can be extended and the pressing speed reduced if a high degree of deformation is required, as the risk of damage to the pressed food product is lower with slow pressing.

In the preferred embodiment of the invention, the pressed products are analyzed not only before pressing, but also after pressing. For this purpose, a second analyzing device (e.g. scanner) is pref erably provided, which analyzes the food products after pressing and generates corresponding second analysis parameters, which reproduce the product characteristics of the pressed food product. The control unit then sets the pressing parameter preferably not only depending on the analysis before pressing, but also depending on the analysis after pressing.

In the post-press analysis, the control unit can also detect whether the pressed food product has broken during the pressing process by analyzing the second analysis parameters, for example with a complete splitting of the food product or with a bone fracture in the food product. If such a fracture is detected, the control unit will preferably adjust the pressing parameters so that food products of the same product type are not subsequently fractured.

The first or second analyzing device is preferably a scanner, in particular an optical scanner or an X-ray scanner, which scans the food products and determines at least one of the following prod uct characteristics:

- Length of the food product,

- Width of the food product,

- Height of the food product,

- Volume of the food product,

- Form of the food product,

- Fat content of the food product,

- Bone content of the food product,

- Lean meat content of the food product and/or

- Bone volume of the food product,

- Bone form of the food product,

- Presence of a brow of the food product.

Such scanners are known from the state of the art and therefore do not need to be described in detail.

In addition, the first or second analyzing device may have a temperature measuring device which measures the temperature of the food products as a product characteristic. For example, this temperature measurement can be carried out using a thermal imaging camera.

Furthermore, the first or second analyzing device or the control unit can carry out a force- displacement measurement to determine the product strength, whereby the modulus of elasticity or the hardness of the food product is measured. For example, the freezing point of meat can vary considerably due to the different salt content of the meat product. However, the freezing point is the decisive factor during pressing, as the forming process is only maintained in this temperature range or below.

Further, the pressing parameters can be fed back from the press to the control unit, which then derives other product parameters from the pressing parameters. For example, the percentage of the frozen part of the product, the percentage of the unfrozen part of the product or the viscosity of the product can be derived from the measured pressing parameters.

For the sake of completeness, it should be mentioned that the food processing apparatus accord ing to the invention preferably also has a slicing device to cut the pressed food products after pressing. Such slicing devices are known from the state of the art and are also referred to as "slic- ers".

In addition, the food processing apparatus according to the invention may also include a packag ing device for packaging the pressed and sliced food products. For example, the food products can be placed in trays. For example, the packaging device can be a so-called thermoformer, as it is known from the state of the art.

Furthermore, the food processing apparatus according to the invention preferably also includes a conveyor (e.g. conveyor belt) to convey the food products along a conveyor path. Preferably, the conveyor path conveys the food products successively through the first analyzing device, through the press, through the second analyzing device, through the slicing device and finally into the packaging device.

In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the press comprises a press chamber in which the products are pressed by movable dies. Flere, the scanning chamber has an adjustable degree of opening for receiving products of different sizes. For receiving a large product, the pressing chamber is opened relatively wide and for receiving a small product, the scanning chamber is opened relatively little. Further, the first analyzing device is preferably a scanner (e.g. optical scanner, X-ray scanner) which determines the size of the incoming products. Therefore, the first analysis parameters provided by the scanner reflect the size of the incoming products. The control unit then adjusts the opening degree of the pressing chamber according to the size of the product to be pressed. On the hand, an unnecessary wide opening of the pressing chamber is avoided in this way. This allows a reduction of the cycle time, i.e. the number of products pressed per time unit. On the other hand, the adjustment of the opening degree makes sure that products of dif ferent sizes can be pressed in the pressing chamber.

In addition to the food processing apparatus according to the invention described above, the in vention also claims protection for a corresponding food processing method. The individual pro- cess steps of the food processing method according to the invention already result from the above description, so that a separate description of the individual steps can be dispensed with at this point.

Other beneficial further modifications of the invention are indicated in the dependent claims or explained in more detail below together with the description of the preferred embodiment of the invention on the basis of the figures. They show:

Figure 1 shows a schematic representation of a food processing apparatus according to the inven tion,

Figure 2 shows a flow chart to illustrate the food processing method according to the invention,

Figure 3A shows different pressing travel-time curves,

Figure 3B shows various pressing force-time curves,

Figure 3C shows different pressing travel-time curves for different degrees of deformation,

Figure 4A schematically shows the pressing of a relatively large product, so that the pressing chamber is opened relatively wide, and

Figure 4B schematically shows the pressing of a relatively small product, so that the pressing chamber is opened relatively little.

Figure 1 shows a schematic representation of a food processing apparatus according to the inven tion for pressing, cutting and packaging food products, where a food product 1 is shown before pressing and a food product 2 is shown after pressing.

The food products 1, 2 are conveyed by a conveyor 3 in the direction of the arrow through the food processing apparatus, first through an optical scanner 4, through a press 5, through another optical scanner 6, through a slicing device 7 ("slicer") and finally into a packaging machine 8, which packs the pressed and sliced food products 2 in trays. For this purpose, the packaging ma chine 8 can, for example, be designed as a thermoformer. The optical scanner 4 optically scans the unpressed food products 1 before pressing and thus de termines, for example, length, width, height, volume, shape, fat content, bone content, lean meat content and bone volume of the unpressed food products 1. The scanner 4 then outputs the cor responding analysis parameters to a control unit 9, whereby the control unit 9 controls the press 5 with the corresponding pressing parameters, as described in detail below. For example, the control unit 9 controls the degree of opening of the press 5, which will be explained later in detail with reference to Figs. 4A and 4B.

The scanner 6 optically scans the pressed food products 2 after pressing and also transmits corre sponding analysis parameters to the control unit so that the control unit 9 can adjust the pressing parameters accordingly, as described in detail below.

The slicing device 7 then cuts the pressed food products 2 into slices and forwards the sliced stacks to the downstream packaging machine 8, which then packs the sliced food products 2.

It should be noted that both the cutting unit 7 and the packaging machine 8 pass on targets for the optimum product shape to the control unit 9. Packaging in trays with a certain tray size usual ly requires a certain product shape that is optimally suited.

In addition, the cutter 7 also has a preferred product shape, which is passed on to the control unit 9 so that the control unit 9 can optimise the pressing parameters accordingly.

In the following, the flow diagram shown in Figure 2 is used to describe the food processing method according to the invention that can be carried out by the food processing apparatus as shown in Figure 1.

In a first step SI, the conveyor 3 feeds the unpressed food products 1 into the scanner 4.

In the scanner 4, the unpressed food products 1 are then scanned in a step S2, generating corre sponding analysis parameters.

In a step S3, pressing parameters are determined that are to be used to press the food product 1. On the one hand, the analysis parameters previously determined by the scanner 4 are taken into account. This includes, for example, the product shape of the food products 1 before pressing.

The pressing parameters also include the required degree of opening of the pressing chamber 13 of the press 5. For receiving a large product, the pressing chamber 13 is opened relatively wide and for receiving a small product, the scanning chamber 13 is opened relatively little.

On the other hand, when determining the pressing parameters in step S3, the shape of the food products 2 after pressing is also taken into account, whereby this product shape is determined in step S7 by the second scanner 6.

In addition, when determining the pressing parameters in step S3, the targets set by the slicing device 7 and the packaging machine 8 are also taken into account.

In a step S4, the food product 1 is then conveyed into the press 5.

In a step S5, the food product 1 is then pressed in the press 5 with the specified pressing parame ters.

During the pressing process, the control unit 9 receives a feedback from the press 5, which ena bles the control unit 9 to evaluate the pressing process. For example, the press 5 reports actual values of the pressing force and the pressing travel to the control unit 9. The control unit can then calculate the product strength, which also reflects the degree of freezing of the pressed food product 1. This is advantageous because the pressing process is irreversible only at low product temperatures in the freezing range. When pressing warmer products, on the other hand, the product deformation largely recedes after pressing, which is undesirable. It therefore makes sense for the control unit 9 to generate an error message if the evaluation of the feedback from the press 5 shows that the food products 1 are too warm for a proper pressing process.

The pressed food product 2 is then conveyed from the press 5 to the scanner 6 by the conveyor 3 in a step S5.

In a step S7, the pressed food product is then scanned in the second scanner 6, determining ap propriate analysis parameters, which are then forwarded to the control unit 9. In a step S8, the pressed food product 2 is then conveyed from the scanner 6 to the cutting unit 7.

In a step S9 the pressed food product 2 is then cut into slices in the slicing device 7.

In the next step S10, the sliced food product 2 is then conveyed to the packaging machine 8 and finally packaged in a final step Sll.

The pressing parameters specified by the control unit 9 can also include a pressing travel-time curve of 10 or 10', as shown in Figure 3A. In the case of pressing travel-time curve 10, the pressing travel x increases linearly with time until the maximum pressing travel XHUB is finally reached after the specified press duration THUB- The pressing travel x is the compression travel covered by the food product 1 during deformation.

In contrast, the pressing travel-time curve 10' differs from the pressing travel-time curve 10 by a progressive course, which can lead to an optimization of the pressing process.

The pressing parameters specified by the control unit 9 may also include a pressing force-time curve 11 or 11', as shown in Figure 3B.

With the pressing force-time curve 11, the pressing force F PR ESS increases linearly with the time t during the THUB press duration.

The pressing force-time curve 11', on the other hand, has a progressive curve, which can contrib ute to an optimization of the pressing process.

Figure 3C finally shows two pressing travel-time curves 12, 12'.

With the pressing travel-time curve 12, the pressing process takes place within a short pressing time THUBI with a relatively small pressing travel XHUBI- This means that the degree of deformation is relatively low, so that pressing can be carried out relatively quickly without any risk of damage to the food product. With the pressing travel-time curve 12', on the other hand, the degree of deformation is much greater, so that it is advantageous to press more slowly, i.e. with a much longer T HUB 2 press dura tion.

Figures 4A and 4B illustrate the pressing of products 1 of different sizes in the press 5 which com prises a pressing chamber 13 with an adjustable degree of opening dl, d2 and movable dies 14,

15 for pressing the product 1.

In Fig. 4A on the one hand, the product 1 to be pressed is relatively large. The size of the product 1 is determined by the scanner 5 and the control unit 9 controls the press 5 so that the pressing chamber 13 opens relatively wide for receiving the large product 1, i.e. the degree of opening dl is relatively large.

In Fig. 4B on the other hand, the product 1 to be pressed is relatively small. The size of the prod uct 1 is determined by the scanner 5 and the control unit 9 controls the press 5 so that the press ing chamber 13 opens relatively little for receiving the small product 1, i.e. the degree of opening d2 is relatively small.

Therefore, an unnecessary wide opening of the pressing chamber 13 is avoided and the press 5 is nevertheless suitable to receive products 1 of different sizes.

The invention is not limited to the preferred embodiment described above. Rather, the invention comprises various variants and modifications which also make use of the inventive idea and there fore fall within the scope of protection. In particular, the invention also claims protection for the subject-matter and the features of the dependent claims independently of the claims referred to in each case and in particular also without the features of the main claim. The invention thus comprises various invention aspects which enjoy protection independently of each other. List of reference signs:

1 Food product before pressing

2 Food product after pressing

3 Conveyor

4 Scanner before the press

5 Press

6 Scanner behind the press

7 Slicing device

8 Packaging machine

9 Control unit

10, 10' Pressing travel-time curve

11, 11' Pressing force-time curve

12, 12' Pressing travel-time curve

13 Pressing chamber

14, 15 Dies of the press

dl, d2 Degree of opening of the pressing chamber x Pressing travel

XHUB Pressing travel

THUB pressing time

FMAX Maximum pressing force

t Pressing time