A revolutionary automated system to test the eating quality of meat is being developed in Scotland.

The Scottish Agricultural College is leading a £950,000 three-year project to develop an automatic or semi-automatic system that could be used throughout the meat production chain to establish eating quality. The Integrated Measurement of Eating Quality project is being hailed as a world first.

The project will focus on beef but in the long term the technology will be extended to pork and lamb. "Complex factors determine texture and taste and this research will develop processes for rapid assessment in the abattoir," said Quality Meat Scotland chairman Donald Biggar.

Meanwhile in England Eblex has launched a study to benchmark the quality of beef in supermarkets. Mystery shoppers will buy beef from stores and pass them to Eblex to be tested for toughness.