In this work, an innovative procedure for real-time heat transfer modelling and dimensional change estimation during meat cooking was presented. By using a multipoint temperature probe, a punctual calculation of slowest heating point (SHP) temperature was obtained at each time from the radial temperature distribution inside the product. Experimental temperature data from the multipoint probe was combined with a mathematical algorithm previously validated to perform a real-time estimation of SHP temperature and residual cooking time on the basis of the data stored at each instant. The developed procedure and algorithm were validated by cooking pork loin and roast beef samples at 180 and 200 degrees C both under natural and forced convection regimes. Real-time predicted cooking time and SHP endpoint temperature values were very close to those experimentally obtained: at the 85% of the cooking process, the maximum percentage errors for SHP endpoint temperature and cooking time prediction were 1.72 and 1.67%, respectively. In addition, SHP location inside the meat samples was also obtained at each time instant and used to estimate dimensional changes during cooking: calculated final characteristic dimensions were very similar to those experimentally obtained for all cooking trials. The developed approach could be useful for the automatic cooking operations planning in food-service with microbial safety assurance.
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