The present invention relates in the first place to a method for marking
a food product, in particular a meat product, which is or can be divided into portions
along cutting faces, comprising the step of placing a number of marking lines on
the food product substantially crosswise to the cutting faces, which marking lines
can be distinguished in the individual portions of the food product.
Such a method is known from EP-A-O 443 959. In the method according
to EP-A-O 443 959 one or more marking lines of a protein-based material like casein
or of a collagen based material, are applied on a lipid and protein containing outer
layer of a food product.
Said method has the disadvantage, that the marking lines only discriminate
the food product from non-marked food products. The possibility of discriminating
marked food products from one another is however not provided. The invention intends
to improve the above mentioned marking method and is characterized in that the marking
lines are applied in a bar code type of pattern.
The marked food product which can be produced by the method according
to the invention has the very great advantage that even after the product has been
divided into portions the marking lines can still be distinguished in the individual
portions, the bar code type of pattern of the marking lines making it possible,
that the food products comprising said marking lines can be discriminated from one
A number of data relating to the food product concerned, such as,
inter alia, the origin (producer), possibly data concerning shelf life, quantity,
composition etc., can be established by means of the marking.
For the sake of clarity, the remainder of the description will refer
to a meat product, but it will be clear that the present invention is by no means
limited thereto and relates to all types of food products where marking is desirable.
The marking lines according to the invention are not particularly
limited. All kinds of marking lines are possible here, not only placing material
on or in the food product, but also removing material from the food product, the
latter option being, of course, less preferable because of the weight loss involved.
The marking lines according to the invention preferably comprise incisions, dye
lines, brand lines, larding lines, or a combination thereof.
It is most preferable to make incisions. Incisions namely have the
advantage that they are virtually invisible for the consumer, no material is lost
from the food product, and virtually no material is applied or the characteristics
of the food product otherwise altered.
Incisions can be made in many ways. They can be made in the food product
with knives, preferably rotary circular knives, water jet cutters, laser cutters
or the like.
When dyes are used to place the marking lines on the food product,
dyes commonly used in the food industry can be used. However, in this connection
it is preferable to use invisible dyes, such as dyes which fluoresce under ultraviolet
irradiation or infrared irradiation. Other forms of dye lines are marking lines
formed by placing a food material on the food product. An example of this is to
place marking lines on meat products by means of a meat paste in a distinguishable
colour. In the case of extruded meat products the marking lines can be co-extruded
with the product.
For the application of marking lines, attention is also drawn to the
techniques connected with larding, in the case of which, for example, strands of
bacon fat or the like are introduced into meat and can serve as marking lines. In
other words, the invention is not limited to marking lines near the outside of the
There are many different ways in which the marking lines can contain
the information, which are widely known in the field of the bar code techniques.
Finally, the invention provides a food product, in particular a meat
product, which is or can be divided into portions along cutting faces and which
is provided with a number of marking lines in a bar code type of pattern, placed
substantially crosswise to the cutting faces, which food product can be obtained
by the method according to the invention.
In particular, the food product comprises bacon, and the marking lines
comprise a number of incisions.
In this respect, EP-A-0 326 485 is mentioned, wherein a method is
described providing a uniform marking line in a food product by placing an incision
therein and successively applying for example a gold thread in the said decision.
This marking method does not enable the marked food products to be discriminated
from one another. In practice it turned out that, when the food product is cut in
very thin slices, the gold thread is not adequately hold in the said slices. Identification
of the individual slices is therefore not well possible. Slices, originating from
a food product, marked according to the method of the present invention can however
very well be identified.
In US-A-1,995,725 a method is described for placing a specially formed
internal incision over the entire length of, for example a piece of meat, crosswise
to the cutting face thereof. Placing of an internal mark is however complicated
and may lead to a diminished bond within the individual slices, giving said slices
an unattractive appearance. It is also possible that, using this method, the marking
can be damaged, so that identification of the slices becomes impossible.
Further attention is drawn to DE-C-466 007, describing a device for
placing incisions in the rind of ham, in which the distance of the incisions can
be varied according to the intended marking. This device is particularly intended
to place incisions locally, whereby several right-angled rind pieces can be removed
for identification of the ham, in order to obtain a desired pattern, for example
in the form of a character. The said device is not intended to apply marking lines
in a bar code type pattern crosswise to the cutting faces of the food product.
The invention will be explained in greater detail below with reference
to the appended drawing, in which:
- Fig. 1 shows a joint of unsliced bacon with four incisions as marking lines,
forming a bar code type of pattern.
- Fig. 2 shows a slice of bacon in side view; and
- Fig. 3 shows an example of a bar code type of marking.
Fig. 1 shows in perspective view a joint of bacon 1, in which four
marking lines in the form of incisions 2 are made diagrammatically. In the present
example the marking lines 2 are substantially linear, which is however not essential.
The above can be seen more clearly in Fig. 2, in which a slice 3 of
the joint of bacon 1 is shown in side view. The incisions 2 are clearly visible
here. The depth of the incisions will depend on the food product concerned. In the
case of bacon, in which an outside layer of fat with a rind is present, the incision
depth is advantageously no more than approximately 5 mm, and preferably approximately
For possible additional data, dyes can be applied to the incisions
A large number of products can be distinguished from one another by
means of only a small number of lines. Lines can represent numbers or other information
by means of which the food products can be identified.
Fig. 3 shows an example of a bar code type of marking, which consists
of two cuts for marking the area in which the code lies, i.e. the cuts 5 and 7,
and in which the code is indicated by a pattern of incisions 6. An incision 4 is
also present for position-fixing, in other words, a so-called rotation identification.
In this way it is unambiguously established that the code must be
read from the lines 4, 5 onwards. By means of the six code lines 6, a very large
number of products can be distinguished from one another. For the sake of clarity,
it is pointed out that the coding is carried out by optionally making an incision
6 at certain positions between the lines 5 and 7. Dyes may also be used in the incisions,
With the use of suitable cutting equipment, it is also possible to
make incisions of different depths and widths. This provides the possibility of
applying a common bar code to the food product. Such a bar code can, of course,
also be applied with dye or food material, or by larding with strands of various