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Knife force differences when cutting meat at different temperatures
KTH, School of Technology and Health (STH), Ergonomics.
KTH, School of Technology and Health (STH), Ergonomics.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7386-0103
(Tekniska Högskolan Jönköping, Industriell produktion)
(Liberty Mutual Reseach Institute, Boston, USA)
2012 (English)In: NES2012: Ergonomics for Sustainability and Growth / [ed] Ann-Beth Antonsson, Kjerstin Vogel, Göran M Hägg, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2012Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]


Meat cutters in abattoirs is a group with high risks for musculoskeletal disorders. A major reason for this is that they exert high hand forces over a great part of the day when cutting meat. Though meat is refrigerated due to hygienic demands, meat temperature can vary. Meat cutters have claimed that knife forces increase with lower temperatures. This study was performed to find out what effects the meat temperature has on cutting forces. In addition, the same issue was addressed for pure fat.


To be able to do cuts in meat under controlled conditions while measuring cutting forces, a machine, Anago KST Sharpness Analyzer, was used. The machine normally runs a knife at constant speed through a standardized textile ribbon while the force exerted on the ribbon is recorded over time. For this investigation, the ribbon was replaced by a wooden fixture with a 10 mm wide slot where the knife could pass and where meat samples could be fixed.Meat obtained from hind loin and fat tissue of pork was cut into 5 cm long, 4 cm wide and 2 cm thick samples. The meat fibre orientation was aligned with the long axis of the sample. When fixated in the fixture and the machine was started, the knife made a 4 cm long cut through 2 cm thick meat or fat.One hundred and forty four samples of meat and as many of fat were collected and put overnight in one of three refrigerators with temperatures 2, 7 and 12 °C, 48 in each. Well sharpened standard knifes were used for the tests. The knife was changed after 24 cuts. During the procedure samples were taken directly from the refrigerator and put into the fixture and tested immediately. The sample order was generally 2, 7, 12 °C to avoid systematic effects of a gradually blunter knife.


There were no significant differences in knife forces at the three meat temperatures. The forces for fat were in average about three times higher than the meat forces. There was no significant difference between forces in fat at 7 and 12 °C. However there was a strongly significant difference between these two groups and the 2 °C fat group. The force was about 30% higher compared to the forces at 7 and 12 °C in fat.


In the range 2-12 °C there are no differences in meat. For fat there are no differences in the range 7-12 °C while the force increases about 30% when going from 7 to 2 °C.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2012.
Keyword [en]
Abattoir work, deboner, repetitive work, MSD
National Category
Medical Ergonomics
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-101943ISBN: 978-91-637-1149-7OAI: diva2:550037
NES2012 Ergonomics for Sustainability and Growth
STAR, styckarnas arbetssituation

QC 20120910

Available from: 2012-09-10 Created: 2012-09-06 Last updated: 2012-09-10Bibliographically approved

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