The grinder is the most commonly used piece of equipment in the meat industry for reducing particle size. The size of the meat particle is determined by the diameter of the hole in the plate and the revolutions per minute of the cutting knife. The grinding temperature is critical for obtaining clear particle definition and is found to be at or near the freezing point of meat, 28°F. The sharpness of cutting knives and the grinding plate is also vital to produce a product with a less smeared appearance. Products with high fat content can usually be ground at a colder temperature than can lean products. A double-plate grinding system can often be adapted to the regular grinder with adequate horsepower to reduce the capital and operation costs as well as to maximize use of space.

One quality concern of coarse-ground products is bone chips and gristle in the finished products. An automatic bone elimination system is often built into a grinder to remove bone, gristle, and any other hard-to-grind materials. There are two general types of removal systems: central removal and peripheral removal. The latter system passes the least amount of bone to the finished product and also has less of a plug-up problem for a prolonged period of use (11).

In poultry plants, a low-pressure grinding system has been used increasingly to separate meat from bone and sinew. Raw meat is fed into a precrusher, which consists of dual crushing rollers. The crushed meat is then carried and forced against a perforated drum by a flexible conveyor. Meat is pressed through the perforations into the inside of the drum. The deboned meat inside the drum is then discharged at the drum opening by a static product scraper. The bones, sinew, etc are carried around the outside surface of the drum and are then removed by a scraper knife. The low-pressure grinder functions very effectively for poultry products, but ineffectively for red meats, owing to the toughness of the muscle.

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