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Title:
A METHOD AND DEVICE FOR TREATING A RAW MEAT PRODUCT
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/029121
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present application relates to a method and a corresponding device for treating a raw meat product containing a fat content. The method comprises a first step (S1) of delivering energy, taken from a set of energies defined by mechanical wave energy and electromagnetic energy, in particular radio frequency energy or laser/optical energy, to the raw meat product to emulsify the fat content of the raw meat product, and a second step (S2) of separating the emulsified fat content from the raw meat product. This solution allows to easily separating the fat content from the raw meat.

Inventors:
ZHENG, Shuxiao (High Tech Campus 5, 5656 AE Eindhoven, 5656 AE, NL)
TIAN, Cong (High Tech Campus 5, 5656 AE Eindhoven, 5656 AE, NL)
YU, Donghai (High Tech Campus 5, 5656 AE Eindhoven, 5656 AE, NL)
WANG, Yanyan (High Tech Campus 5, 5656 AE Eindhoven, 5656 AE, NL)
Application Number:
EP2017/069879
Publication Date:
February 15, 2018
Filing Date:
August 07, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
KONINKLIJKE PHILIPS N.V. (High Tech Campus 5, 5656 AE Eindhoven, 5656 AE, NL)
International Classes:
A23L5/20; A22C17/00; A23L13/00; H05B6/00
Foreign References:
GB2264220A1993-08-25
US20130183422A12013-07-18
US6165525A2000-12-26
US20140005637A12014-01-02
US5368171A1994-11-29
GB2264220A1993-08-25
Other References:
MARC J.; SALZMAN, SEMIN CUTAN SUG, vol. 28, 2009, pages 220 - 225
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FREEKE, Arnold, Jan et al. (Philips International B.V. – Intellectual Property & Standards, High Tech Campus 5, 5656 AE Eindhoven, 5656 AE, NL)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS:

1. A method of treating a raw meat product (1) containing a fat content, the method comprising:

a first step (SI) of delivering energy, taken from a set of energies defined by: mechanical wave energy and electromagnetic energy, in particular radio frequency energy or laser/optical energy, to the raw meat product (1) for emulsifying the fat content; and

a second step (S2) of separating the emulsified fat content from the raw meat product (1).

2. A method according to claim 1, wherein the first step (SI) includes contacting the raw meat product (1) with a probe (19) adapted to deliver energy to the raw meat product

(1).

3. A method according to claim 2, wherein contacting the raw meat product (1) with a probe (19) comprises placing the probe (19) against an outer surface of the raw meat product (1).

4. A method according to claim 2, wherein contacting the product (1) with a probe (19) comprises inserting the probe (19) into the raw meat product (1). 5. A method according to claim 3 or 4, comprising contacting a first region of the raw meat product (1) with the probe (19) to deliver energy to said first region and then contacting a second region of the raw meat product (1) with a probe (19) to deliver energy to said second region.

6. A method according to claim 4 or 5, wherein the probe (19) comprises a cannula and the first step (SI) comprises delivering mechanical energy to the raw meat product (1) using the cannula.

7. A method according to any of claims 1 to 5, wherein the first step (SI) comprises delivering mechanical wave energy to the raw meat product (1) in the form of ultrasound. 8. A method according to any of claims 1 to 5, wherein the first step (SI) comprises delivering laser/optical energy to the raw meat product (1) using a laser having a wavelength in the range 900nm to 2800nm.

9. A method according to any preceding claim, wherein the second step (S2) comprises centrifuging the raw meat product to separate the emulsified fat content from the raw meat product (1).

10. A method according to any preceding claim, wherein the second step (S2) comprises placing the raw meat product (1) in a permeable container (14), rotatably mounting the permeable container (14) in a chamber (8) of a device (2) for treating a raw meat product (1) to reduce its fat content and operating the device (2) to rotate the permeable container (14) to separate the emulsified fat content from the raw meat product (1) through the permeable container (14) under centrifugal force. 11. A device for treating a raw meat product (1) containing a fat content, the device comprising:

an energy source (3) to deliver energy to the raw meat product (1) to emulsify the fat content in the raw meat product (1), the energy source (3) being adapted to deliver energy taken from a set of energies defined by mechanical wave energy and electromagnetic energy, in particular radio frequency energy or laser/optical energy; and

a system (4) for separating the emulsified fat content from the raw meat product (1).

12. A device according to claim 11, wherein the energy source (3) comprises a probe (19) positionable in contact with the raw meat product (1).

13. A device according to claim 11 or 12, comprising a chamber (8) and a permeable container (14) to receive the raw meat product (1) to be treated, the permeable container (14) being rotatably mountable within the chamber (8), the system (4) including a motor (12) operable to rotate the permeable container (14) to separate the liquefied fat from the raw meat product (1) through the permeable container (14), after energy has been delivered to the raw meat product (1) to emulsify the fat content in the raw meat product (1).

14. A device according to any of claims 11 to 13, wherein the energy source (3) is configured to deliver mechanical wave energy to the raw meat product (1) in the form of ultrasound.

15. A device according to any of claims 11 to 13, wherein the energy source (3) is a laser configured to deliver laser/optical energy to the raw meat product (1), the laser having a wavelength in the range 900nm to 2800nm.

Description:
A method and device for treating a raw meat product

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a method and a device for treating a raw meat product.

The invention has some applications in the field of food processing.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

For many people it is desirable to reduce the amount of fat they consume to help control weight and reduce the risk of associated illnesses such as obesity and heart disease.

Meat products are a common source of fat. The fat can sometimes be removed by cutting the fat from the meat product using a knife. However, this method is time consuming and impractical, especially where the fat content is distributed throughout the meat product, such as in marbled pork. If attempts are made to cut the fat from a marbled meat product, the structure of the meat product breaks down. This can be undesirable when cooking dishes like bacon or bouilli.

GB 2 264 220 A refers to reduced fat meat. Sources of meat having a high fat content, such as meat trimmings, are processed in a manner by which meat products prepared therefrom have a dramatically reduced fat content while retaining the desirable functionality of the unprocessed meat sources. The fat-containing meat trimmings or the like are comminuted, heated and centrifuged under specific processing conditions in order to provide unformulated raw reduced fat meat having a fat content of not greater than on the order of about ten percent by weight while having excellent functionality. The unformulated reduced fat meat is formable into a variety of familiar meat products, including wieners, sausages, hamburger patties, and the like, thereby providing products having taste, appearance, texture and other qualities which are substantially indistinguishable from products prepared from high fat unformulated raw materials but which have dramatically reduced fat contents.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION It is an object of the invention to provide a method and a device for treating a raw meat product to reduce its fat content and substantially alleviate or overcome one or more of the problems mentioned above.

The invention is defined by the independent claims. The dependent claims define advantageous embodiments.

According to the present invention, there is provided a method of treating a raw meat product containing a fat content, the method comprising:

a first step of delivering energy, taken from a set of energies defined by mechanical wave energy and electromagnetic energy, in particular radio frequency energy or laser/optical energy, to the raw meat product to cause the fat content to emulsify; and

a second step of separating the emulsified fat content from the raw meat product.

By delivering energy to the product sufficient to cause the fat content to emulsify in a first step, the fat content can be separated from the raw meat product easily.

Preferably, the first step includes contacting the raw meat product with a probe adapted to deliver the energy to the product.

Therefore the energy source is brought into contact with the raw meat product to efficiently deliver the energy to the raw meat product.

Advantageously, contacting the raw meat product with a probe comprises placing the probe against an outer surface of the raw meat product. By placing the probe against the outer surface of the raw meat product there is no need to penetrate the raw meat product which may damage its structure or which could potentially leave an unsightly mark or hole when the raw meat product is cooked.

Advantageously, contacting the raw meat product with a probe may instead comprise inserting the probe into the raw meat product. In some circumstances, it may be preferable to penetrate the raw meat product with a probe in order to more efficiently and effectively deliver energy to the raw meat product.

In some preferred embodiments, the first step may comprise contacting a first region of the raw meat product with a probe to deliver energy to said first region and then contacting a second region of the raw meat product with a probe to deliver energy to said second region.

Therefore, larger raw meat products can be treated by treating local areas of the raw meat product one after the other. By treating local areas one at a time there should be no, or very little, increase in the overall temperature of the raw meat product during treatment. Any overall increase in the temperature of the raw meat product may undesirably start to cook the raw meat product during treatment of the raw meat product to reduce its fat content.

In some embodiments, the probe may comprise a cannula and the first step may comprise delivering mechanical energy to the raw meat product using the cannula. For example, a fluid, preferably water, may be injected into the raw meat product through the cannula or optical energy may be delivered to the raw meat product via a cannula.

In a preferred embodiment, the first step may comprise delivering mechanical wave energy to the product in the form of ultrasound.

Ultrasound is capable of emulsifying the fat content of the raw meat product without denaturing or otherwise harming other tissues in the raw meat product.

In another embodiment, the first step may comprise delivering laser/optical energy to the raw meat product using a laser having a wavelength in the range 900nm to 2800 nm.

Lasers in the wave length range of 900nm to 2800nm are known to be particularly effective at penetrating meat tissues. Therefore the laser energy will easily pass through the meat tissue to reach the fat content whereupon it causes the fat content to emulsify.

In another embodiment, the first step may comprise delivering mechanical energy to the raw meat product by inserting a cannula into the raw meat product and injecting water into the raw meat product.

Therefore the fat content of the raw meat product is emulsified by direct application of water to the fat content.

Preferably, the second step comprises centrifuging the raw meat product to separate the emulsified fat content from the raw meat product.

By centrifuging the raw meat product, emulsified fat both inside and on the surface of the raw meat product is removed under centrifugal force.

Preferably, centrifuging the raw meat product comprises rotating the raw meat product at a speed equal to or greater than 700rpm. More preferably, centrifuging the raw meat product comprises rotating the raw meat product at a speed anywhere between 700rpm and 1500rpm.

Therefore the centrifugal force used in the second step is high enough to separate the emulsified fat from the raw meat product, yet low enough to prevent damage to other tissues. Preferably, the method comprises placing the raw meat product in a device for treating the raw meat product to carry out the first step prior to carrying out the second step.

Preferably, the second step comprises placing the raw meat product in a permeable container, rotatably mounting the permeable container in a chamber of a device for treating a raw meat product to reduce its fat content and operating the device to rotate the permeable container to separate the emulsified fat content from the raw meat product through the permeable container under centrifugal force.

Preferably, the method comprises placing the product in the permeable container and rotatably mounting the permeable container in the chamber to carry out the first step prior to carrying out the second step.

Therefore the raw meat product is securely held while the first step is carried out and there is no need to move the raw meat product from one place, or one device, to another between steps.

According to the present invention, there is also provided a device for treating a raw meat product containing a fat content, the device comprising:

an energy source to deliver energy to the raw meat product to emulsify the fat content in the raw meat product, the energy source being configured to deliver energy taken from a set of energies defined by mechanical wave energy and electromagnetic energy, in particular radio frequency energy or laser/optical energy; and

- a system for separating the emulsified fat content from the raw meat product.

Preferably, the energy source comprises a probe positionable in contact with the raw meat product.

Preferably, the device comprises a chamber and a permeable container to receive a raw meat product to be treated rotatably mountable within the chamber, the system including a motor operable to rotate the permeable container to separate the liquefied fat from the raw meat product through the permeable container after energy has been delivered to the raw meat product to emulsify the fat content in the raw meat product.

Preferably, the device comprises a reservoir to collect the liquefied fat content separated from the raw meat product.

Therefore, emulsified fat separated from the raw meat product is held separately from the raw meat product. The reservoir may be removable from the device to enable it to be emptied.

Advantageously, the energy source may be configured to deliver mechanical wave energy in the form of ultrasound to the raw meat product. Preferably, the device comprises a filter to filter the fat content after it has been separated from the product and before it passes into the reservoir.

Advantageously, the energy source may be a laser configured to deliver laser/optical energy to the raw meat product.

These and other aspects of the invention will be apparent from and elucidated with reference to the embodiments described hereinafter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Embodiments of the invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

Fig. 1 is a flow chart to illustrate the method steps according to an embodiment of the invention;

Fig. 2 schematically illustrates a first device according to an embodiment of the invention;

Fig. 3 schematically illustrates a second device according to an embodiment of the invention;

Fig. 4 schematically illustrates a third device according to an embodiment of the invention;

Fig. 5 schematically illustrates a feature of the third device according to an embodiment of the invention;

Fig. 6 schematically illustrates a feature of the third device according to an embodiment of the invention;

Fig. 7 schematically illustrates a fourth device according to an embodiment of the invention;

Fig. 8 schematically illustrates a fifth device according to an embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

According to an embodiment of the invention, and with reference to Fig. 1, there is provided a method of treating a raw meat product (referred to as 1 in the following) containing a fat content, the method comprising:

a first step SI of delivering energy, taken from a set of energies defined by: mechanical wave energy andelectromagnetic energy, in particular radio frequency energy or laser/optical energy, to the raw meat product 1 for emulsifying the fat content; and a second step S2 of separating the fat content from the raw meat product 1. A device 2 for treating a raw meat product 1 with the method according to a preferred embodiment of the invention is also provided, illustrated in Figs. 2 to 8.

The device 2 comprises an energy source 3 to deliver energy to the raw meat product 1 to emulsify the fat content in the raw meat product 1 , and a system 4 for separating the emulsified fat content from the raw meat product 1.

In the embodiments illustrated in Figures 2 to 4 and 7, the system 4 for separating the fat content from the raw meat product may be adapted to rotate the raw meat product 1 to separate the fat content from the raw meat product 1 by centrifugal force.

However, other systems 4 for separating the fat content from the raw meat product 1 are considered to be within the scope of the invention. For example, the emulsified fat content may be separated from the raw meat product 1 by absorption or by applying a vacuum. Specifically, absorption may be carried out using an absorbent material such as sanitary tissue paper, blotting paper, oil extraction paper or similar; while a vacuum can be applied to the raw meat product 1 through an open ended conduit to draw the emulsified fat away from the raw meat product 1.

Centrifuging the raw meat product 1 during the second method step S2 has the advantage that the emulsified fat is removed from the surface of the raw meat product 1 and emulsified fat is drawn out from inside the raw meat product 1.

The device 2, as illustrated in Fig 2, preferably comprises a housing 5 to enclose the system 4 that is adapted to rotate the raw meat product 1. The device 2 may include a chamber 8 mounted on the housing 5 in which a permeable container 14, such as a sieve, may be removably mounted to receive the raw meat product 1. The permeable container 14 can be mechanically coupled to the system 4 such that, in use, it rotates the permeable container 14 with a raw meat product 1 received in it so that the raw meat product 1 is subjected to a centrifugal force 1 according to an embodiment of the second method step S2.

In the illustrated embodiment of Fig. 2, the chamber 8 may comprise an impermeable outer wall 9 that preferably upstands from a base 10 to enclose an inner space 11 that may receive the permeable container 14.

The system 4 adapted to rotate the permeable container 14 can comprise a motor 12 mounted within the housing 5, and a drive shaft 13 extending between the motor 12 through the base 10 of the chamber 8 to mechanically couple the motor 12 to the permeable container 14 when the permeable container 14 is mounted within the chamber 8. The permeable container 14 may have a perforated cylindrical wall 15 that may upstand from a perforated base wall 7 to serve as a receptacle for receiving the raw meat product 1. When the permeable container 14 is mounted within the chamber 8, its perforated cylindrical wall 15 is spaced from the outer wall 9 of the chamber 8 to partition a fat reservoir 17. Therefore, during rotation of the permeable container 14, emulsified fat separated from the raw meat product 1 passes through the perforated wall 15 and is collected in the emulsified fat reservoir 17. Preferably, the base 7 of the permeable container 14 is also spaced from the base 10 of the chamber 8 so that the raw meat product 1 is held above any emulsified fat separated from the raw meat product 1.

The second step S2 may comprise placing the raw meat product 1 in the permeable container 14, mounting the permeable container 14 in the chamber 8 of the device 2 and operating the device 2 to rotate the permeable container 14 to separate the emulsified fat content from the raw meat product 1 under centrifugal force. Preferably, the permeable container 14 is rotated at an angular velocity of between 700rpm and 1500rpm for 3 minutes to 5 minutes. More preferably, the permeable container 14 is rotated at an angular velocity of lOOOrpm for 3 minutes. Rotating the permeable container 14 at an angular velocity less than 1500rpm ensures that no damage is caused to meat tissue of the raw meat product 1 received in the permeable container 14.

The second step S2 of the method may also comprise removing the permeable container 14 from the chamber 8 after rotation of the permeable container 14 so as to separate the raw meat product 1 from the emulsified fat which remains in the chamber 8.

The device 2 may comprise one or more gripping elements (not shown) that extend from the base 7 of the permeable container 14 to retain the raw meat product 1 in position when the permeable container 14 is rotated. For example each gripping element may be a protrusion that engages the raw meat product 1 when the raw meat product 1 is received in the permeable container 14.

Preferably, the energy source 3 configured to deliver energy to the raw meat product 1 comprises an elongate probe 19 having a first end 18 that may be placed in contact with the raw meat product 1, and a handle portion 20 opposite the first end 18. In use, a user may manipulate the probe 19 by the handle portion 20 to position the first end 18 against the raw meat product 1. A switch (not shown) may be provided on the probe 19 to activate the energy source 3. As illustrated in the embodiment of Fig. 2, the handle portion 20 may extend perpendicular to the longitudinal axis so that the probe forms a T shape. Alternatively, the handle portion 20 may extend along a longitudinal axis of the probe 19.

According to an embodiment of the invention, the first step S 1 may comprise the step of placing the probe 19 into contact with a first region of the raw meat product 1 to deliver energy to the first region and then placing the probe 19 into contact with a second region of the raw meat product 1 to deliver energy to the second region. The probe 19 can be placed into contact with further regions one after the other depending on the size of the raw meat product 1 and the extent to which the emulsified fat content is to be removed. The probe 19 may be removed from the chamber 8 prior to the second method S2 step of separating the emulsified fat from the raw meat product 1.

A lid 22 may be provided to cover the chamber 8. The lid 22 can be positionable so as to close an upper end of the outer wall 9 of the chamber 8. The lid 22 may be provided with an opening 23 to allow access to the chamber 8 when the lid 22 is positioned so as to cover the chamber 8. The opening 23 may be configured to receive the probe 19 and hold the probe 19 in an upright position so that the probe 19 can be left in contact with the raw meat product 1 during the aforementioned first step S 1 of transferring energy to the raw meat product 1 to cause the fat to emulsify. In order to better hold the probe 19 in an upright position, the opening 23 may be provided with a wall 24 that upstands around the opening 23, the probe 19 having a corresponding portion (not shown) to abut against the wall 24.

Preferably the chamber 8 is removably mounted on top of the housing 5 and may further comprise a handle 25 to allow it to be mounted to the housing 5 by twisting it relative to the housing 5, for example, to engage a bayonet style connection between the chamber 8 and the housing 5. One advantage of this embodiment is that the emulsified fat is more easily removed from the chamber 8 by dismounting the chamber 8 from the housing 5 and tipping the fat away, or into another receptacle.

In such embodiments, the second step S2 may further comprise removing the permeable container 14 from the chamber 8 after rotation of the permeable container 14 so as to separate the raw meat product 1 from the emulsified fat which remains in the chamber 8, and optionally removing the chamber 8 from the lower body portion 5 of the device 2 to facilitate the onward conveyance of the emulsified fat.

Optionally the permeable container 14 comprises a filter (not shown) which lines the walls 7, 15 of the permeable container 14 so that the emulsified fat is first filtered before passing through said walls 7, 15 during the second step S2 of centrifuging the raw meat product 1.

Fig. 3 illustrates a second embodiment of a device according to the invention in which the probe 19 comprises a transducer 21 mounted in the first end 18. The transducer 21 may convert electrical energy into mechanical wave energy for emulsifying fat in the raw meat product 1. Mechanical wave energy generally relies on vibration to loosen or burst fat cells without heating.

Preferably, the transducer 21 converts electrical energy into mechanical wave energy in the form of ultrasound. The transducer 21 may be a piezo electric transducer.

Alternatively, mechanical wave energy in form of shock waves can be applied to the raw meat product 1 by the probe 19.

The first end 18 of the probe 19 may be configured to be placed against the raw meat product 1 so that, when the transducer 21 is activated, mechanical wave energy is delivered directly into the raw meat product 1. For example, where the transducer 21 is a piezo electric transducer, ultrasound may be transmitted into the raw meat product 1.

Electrical current is transmitted along the probe 19 to the transducer 21. The electrical current may be provided by a mains electrical connection or, alternatively, it may be provided by a battery (not shown) disposed within the probe 19.

As illustrated, the first end 18 of the probe may be blunt so that, in use, the first end 18 is placed against the surface of the raw meat product 1. Preferably, the first end

18 of the probe 19 has an area for contacting the raw meat product 1 of between 1.5 cm 2 and 2.5cm 2 . Alternatively, the first end 18 of the of the probe 19 may be pointed so that the first end 18 of the probe 19 can be inserted below the surface of the raw meat product 1 to more evenly treat the whole of the raw meat product 1.

In this embodiment, the first step SI comprises placing the first end 18 of the probe 19 into contact with the raw meat product 1 and activating the transducer 21 to deliver mechanical wave energy to the fat content of the raw meat product 1. When the first end 18 of the probe 19 is blunt, the first step SI comprises placing the first end 18 of the probe 19 against the surface of the raw meat before activating the transducer 21. Where the first end 18 of the probe 19 is pointed, the first step SI comprises inserting the first end 18 of the probe

19 into the raw meat product 1 before activating the transducer 21.

Fat in the raw meat product 1 is stored in a semi-solid phase within an adipocyte cell membrane. Delivering mechanical wave energy to the adipocyte fat cells causes the cell membrane to rupture and the fat to emulsify. More specifically, when the transducer 21 is placed against the raw meat product 1 energy is carried through the raw meat product 1 by mechanical wave propagation. As the wave propagates through the raw meat product 1 it causes adipocyte fat cells that are in the path of the wave to become momentarily displaced from their equilibrium position. Repeated wave propagation stresses the adipocyte fat cell membrane and causes it to rupture and fat retained therein to pass out of the fat cell membrane. Thereafter the fat is considered to be in an emulsified state, whereupon it is free to flow between the meat fibres.

A further effect of the propagation of mechanical waves through the raw meat product 1 is the compression and rarefaction of the raw meat product 1 in the path of the waves. This action of compression and rarefaction causes the emulsified fat to work its way between meat fibres toward the surface of the raw meat product 1 from where it is more easily removed during the second method step S2.

In a more preferred implementation of this embodiment, the transducer 3 emits mechanical wave energy in the form of an ultrasound signal. In this case, the first step SI may comprise activating the transducer 21 to transmit the ultrasound signal into the adipocyte fat cells of the meat product 1. This causes the cell membranes to rupture and fat stored within the cells to emulsify, as explained above. An advantage of using ultrasound is that it causes little to no denaturing of other meat product tissues. The power density of the piezo electric transducer is preferably between lOOwatt/cm 2 and 150watt/cm 2 . More preferably, the power density is 120watt/cm 2 . This yields a treatment time of any particular region of the raw meat product 1 that is between 5 and 10 minutes.

In a third embodiment of the device shown in Fig. 4, wherein like features retain the same reference numbers, the probe 19 is configured to deliver laser/optical energy to the raw meat product 1 generated by a laser source 26. The laser source 26 may be configured to generate a beam of laser light 30 with a wavelength in the range of 900 to

2800nm. Wavelengths corresponding to this range are known to be effective at penetrating meat tissue while being readily absorbed by fat. Therefore, the laser/optical energy is effectively delivered to the fat to emulsify the fat without causing unwanted cooking, denaturing or other damage to the surrounding meat tissue. The principle hence relies on generating heat sufficient to liquefy the fat without cooking or otherwise affecting other components of the meat product.

The laser source 26 is configured to direct the beam of laser light 30 from the first end 18 of the probe 19. In the illustrated embodiment, the laser source 26 is disposed within the probe, though the laser source 26 may be disposed within the housing 5 and optically connected to the first end 18 of the probe 19 by a flexible optic cable. Electrical current may be provided to the laser source 26 by a mains electrical connection or, alternatively, it may be provided by a battery (not shown) disposed within the probe 19.

In one implementation of the third embodiment of Fig 4, shown in Fig. 5, the first end 18 of the probe 19 may comprise a lens system 27 arranged to enlarge the beam of laser light 30 for simultaneous treatment of a larger area of the raw meat product 1. For example, the lens system 27 may comprise a diverging lens 28 and a collimating lens 29 each aligned to the path of the beam of laser light 30 as it passes through the first end 18 of the probe 19; the lens system 27 being arranged so that the beam of laser light 30 passes through the diverging lens 28, causing the beam 30 to diverge and its diameter to increase, before passing through the collimating lens 29 to confine the beam 30 back to a constant diameter. The enlarged diameter of the beam 30 is preferably between 2cm and 6cm in diameter, and more preferably around 4cm in diameter. The first step SI may comprise placing the first end 18 of the probe 19 in contact with the surface of the raw meat product 1 and activating the laser source 26 to deliver laser/optical energy to the raw meat product 1. The beam of laser light 30 is transmitted from the laser source 26 before being enlarged and projected into the raw meat product 1 where it is absorbed by the fat content.

The laser/optical energy delivered by the beam of laser light 30 causes adipocyte fat cells to rupture and the fat content of the cell to liquefy into an extractable emulsion. It is intended that the first end 18 of the probe 19 is held in contact with the raw meat product 1 for a period of 3 to 5 minutes while light/optical energy is delivered to the raw meat product 1 so that a satisfactory level of fat emulsification takes place.

The settings of the laser can be chosen as follows. The laser wavelength used is perferably chosen from one of three major lasers thus far tested for efficiency and safety in laser-assisted lipo lysis which are the 1,064-nm Nd:YAG, 980-nm diode, and the 1,064-

/1,320-nm Nd:YAG lasers. Lasers with wavelengths within regions of approximately 900 to 2,800 nm mid- and near infrared spectrum have been the most extensively studied for such application, as 900 to 2800 nm are most tissue-penetrating optical wavelengths.

The external temperature or surface temperature lies in a range of approximately 38 to 42°C, recommended below 42°C. 40 to 42°C is a temperature range that is felt by the operator's hand during treatment, a very mild temperature as compared to normal cooking temperature ie. above 100°C.

The internal temperature, i.e. the temperature where laser energy is applied, that is, the fat adipocyte tissue temperature which will be liquefied is about 53°C, as "the average delta of temperature measured internally was 16°C, while the average delta as measured at the skin level was 4°C (cf. Laser lipolysis using a 1064/1319-nm blended wavelength laser and internal temperature monitoring, Marc J. Salzman, Semin Cutan Sug 28:220-225, 2009)". Calculation was carried out at people's average temperature at 37°C , therefore internal temperature being (37+16) °C and the external temperature being

(37+4) °C . Two things are important in this regard. One is the average denaturing

temperature of protein, another major component in meat, which is around 60~70°C. This indicates that protein remains unaffected during and after laser treatment, and this differs generally from normal cooking. The other point is that there is a time lag between internal and external temperature, "the increase in skin temperature is delayed from the actual internal temperature and varies relatives to the thickness of the fat layer (cf. reference above)". In the present context according to the invention,this can be translated as the surface of the meat remaining intact after laser treatment, and the user are free to do further pre-treatment of raw meat like marinating meat in marinade, cutting, etc.

The laser treatment time can also be derived from the above publication where it is mentioned that "at 6 minutes of laser exposure, 99% of the fat was released into the interstitial space". This refers to fat cell walls being broken and fat being emulsified.

Comparatively, 6 minutes of cooking on a high level of heat will not only break fat cell walls to liquefy fat, but also cause significant damage to other tissue like protein resulting in denaturation of the latter. In contrast to this, the present invention does not affect other components of the meat.

In another implementation of the embodiment of Fig. 4, shown in Fig. 6, the first end 18 of the probe 19 comprises an array of cannulas 31 comprising a light emitting end 32 that protrude from the first end 18 and are insertable into the raw meat product 1. In this implementation of the embodiment, an optic cable 33 connects the laser source 26 to the cannulas 31. The optic cable 33 furcates to optically connect the laser source 26 with each of the cannulas 31, so that, when the laser source 26 is activated, the beam of laser light 30 is split and transmitted down each of the cannulas 31 to their respective light emitting ends 32.

The first method step SI comprises placing the first end 18 of the probe 19 against the raw meat product 1 so that the light emitting ends 32 of the cannulas 31 are inserted into the raw meat product 1 and activating the laser source 26 to cause laser/optical energy to be delivered into the fat content of the raw meat product 1 from the light emitting ends 32 of the cannulas 31. An advantage of this implementation is that the laser/optic energy has to pass through less of the meat tissue before reaching the fat content of the raw meat product 1.

In a fourth embodiment shown in Fig. 7, wherein like features retain the same reference numbers, the probe 19 is configured to deliver mechanical energy to the raw meat product 1 to agitate the fat content of the raw meat product and cause it to become separated from the meat tissue. In one example of this embodiment, the probe 19 comprises a cannula 34 that extends from the first end 18 for insertion into the raw meat product 1 and is configured to inject pressurised water into the raw meat product 1. A water reservoir 35 and a pump 36 may be provided in the housing 5. The water reservoir 35 may be fluidly connected to the cannula 34 by a flexible pipe 37 extending from the housing 5 and connected to the probe 19. The pump 36 pressurises water in the water reservoir 35 to increase the mechanical energy of the water for injection into the raw meat product 1 through the cannula 34. The first step may comprise placing the first end 18 of the probe 19 against the raw meat product 1 so that the cannula 34 is inserted into the raw meat product 1 and activating the pump 36 to cause pressurised water to be delivered into the fat content of the raw meat product 1 to emulsify the fat content.

In another embodiment of the invention illustrated in Fig. 8 in which like features retain the same reference numbers, the system 4 for separating the fat content from the raw meat product 1 may comprise a conduit 38 adapted to deliver a vacuum to the emulsified fat content of the raw meat product 1 during the second method step S2. A vacuum is considered to be any pressure less than atmospheric pressure.

In this embodiment, the device 2 may comprise a housing 5 and a chamber 8 mounted on the housing 5 to receive the raw meat product 1 during the first and second method steps SI, S2. The device 2 may also comprise an energy source 3 substantially as described in any of the above embodiments to deliver energy to the raw meat product 1 to emulsify the fat content in the raw meat product 1 in accordance with the first method step SI .

Preferably a vacuum pump 39 is mounted in the housing 5 to generate an area of low pressure in a fat receiving space 40 in the housing 5 that is fluidly connected by a pipe 41 to the conduit 38. The conduit 38 may be adapted for insertion into the raw meat product 1 during the second method step S2 of separating the emulsified fat content from the raw meat product 1. During the second method step S2, the conduit 38 may be inserted into the raw meat product 1 and the vacuum pump 39 activated so that emulsified fat is drawn up through the conduit 38 by the vacuum, along the pipe 41 and into the fat receiving space 40.

The fat receiving space 40 may be separated from the vacuum pump 39 by a separating device 42. The separating device 42 prevents any fat entrained in air passing through the vacuum pump 39 from passing out through the housing 5.

In one embodiment the fat receiving space 40 may comprise a removable lining 43 that is configured to line the fat receiving space 40. In this embodiment the housing 5 may comprise a detachable upper section 44 that provides access to the fat receiving space 40 so that the removable lining 43 may be removed. One advantage of this embodiment is that the emulsified fat is more easily removed from the housing 5 by removing the removable lining 43 from the fat receiving space 40 and tipping the fat away, or into another receptacle.

In such embodiments, the second step S2 may further comprise removing the removable lining 43 from the fat receiving space 40 of the housing 5 following insertion of the conduit 38 into the raw meat product 1 to facilitate the onward conveyance of the emulsified fat.

Additionally, other ranges of electromagentical frequencies from the electromagnetic spectrum can be chosen with appropriate parameters to be applied to the raw meat product 1 to emulsify the fat contained therein.

The above embodiments as described are only illustrative, and not intended to limit the technique approaches of the present invention. Although the present invention is described in details referring to the preferable embodiments, those skilled in the art will understand that the technique approaches of the present invention can be modified or equally displaced. In the claims, the word "comprising" does not exclude other elements or steps, and the indefinite article "a" or "an" does not exclude a plurality.

Any reference signs in the claims should not be construed as limiting the scope.