Fully cooked, ready-to-eat products represent one of the fastest growing markets in the meat and poultry industries.
Modern meat cooking facilities typically cook chicken strips and nuggets at rates of 6000 lbs per hour, and it is a critical
food safety issue to ensure the products on these lines are indeed fully cooked. Common practice now employs oven
technicians to constantly measure final cook temperature with insertion-type thermocouple probes.
Prior research has demonstrated that thermal imagery of chicken breasts and other products can be used to predict core
temperature of products leaving an oven. In practice, implementation of a system to monitor core temperature can be
difficult for several reasons. First, a wide variety of products are typically produced on the same production line and the
system must adapt to all products. Second, the products can be often hard to find because they often leave the process
in random order and may be touching or even overlapping. Another issue is finite measurement time which is typically
only a few seconds. Finally, the system is subjected to a rigorous sanitation cycle and must hold up under wash down
To address these problems, a calibrated 320x240 micro-bolometer camera was used to monitor the temperature of
formed, breaded poultry products on a fully cooked production line for a period of one year. The study addressed the
installation and operation of the system as well as the development of algorithms used to identify the product on a
cluttered conveyor belt. It also compared the oven tech insertion probe measurements to the non-contact monitoring