An emerging poultry meat quality concern is associated with chicken breast fillets having an uncharacteristically hard or rigid feel (called the wooden breast condition). The cause of the wooden breast condition is still largely unknown, and there is no single objective evaluation
method or system known for rapidly and non-invasively detecting this quality defect in boneless-skinless chicken breast fillets. Thus, there is an immediate need to develop a rapid and non-invasive sensing technique to detect the wooden breast condition. In this study, sub-surface microstructure
and optical properties of poultry meat were measured by optical coherence tomography (OCT) at 930 nm and hyperspectral imaging from 400 to 1,000 nm. The analysis of the measured OCT B scan images showed that the thickness and pattern of the epimysium (the fibrous connective tissue surrounding
the muscle tissue) of the meat could be a good feature to differentiate between normal and wooden breast fillets. The OCT signals under the fats and whitish strong connective tissue were smeared with speckle noise so that the epimysium layer edge disappeared under these locations. Because
OCT imaging had a small field of view (˜1 cm x 1 cm), it was implied that the scanning time of a large area such as a chicken fillet would be very long. On the other hand, hyperspectral imaging was effective to rapidly scan the entire surface of each fillet and detect excessive fats
and strong connective tissue although a spectral analysis showed that there was no pronounced difference between mean spectra of normal and wooden breast fillets. The study results suggested that hyperspectral imaging would increase the throughput of OCT imaging while OCT would detect the
wooden breast condition, when both modalities were fused. Thus, a fusion of OCT and hyperspectral imaging will provide a sensing tool to rapidly and accurately detect and sort chicken breast fillets with the wooden breast condition.