This article looks at how knife sharpening is traditionally managed in the meat industry and some problems with these methods. It then goes on to explain how the introduction of the Anago knife sharpness tester is changing how we manage our sharpening processes and is fast becoming the global industry standard. We then review the benefits and importance of both testing sharpness and having suitably sharpened knives for Traditional Religious Slaughter and general meat processing.
Developing the skills to effectively sharpen and maintain a knife is not easy. Traditionally this has been a skill that’s passed down from trainers, experienced knife operators and sharpeners to those new to the trade. Confirmation of their ability to sharpen a knife and testing that sharpness is done using largely subjective methods (i.e. paper cut test, cutting hair off your arm). After initial basic training staff are usually left to manage sharpening themselves.
With these traditional training and testing methods it can be hard to tell if training has really been effective and if the butchers are truly doing a good job sharpening and maintaining their knives. Over time they may naturally make some improvements but this can be a slow process taking years or even decades, and given the high rates of staff turnover in todays meat processing industry, building a solid program around knife sharpening is key to having a happy, healthy, and productive workforce.
Measuring knife sharpness
The objective feedback provided by the Anago knife sharpness tester includes a score out of 10 for each knife and a profile of sharpness from the tip to the heel of the blade. This allows knife sharpening staff, trainers, and students to fine tune their sharpening techniques by using the results from each sharpness test to prompt changes and improvements. The result is a continuous improvement in both sharpening methods and sharpness levels.
It has proven to be a very effective way for creating dramatic improvements to knife sharpness levels. Many customers more than double their sharpness levels (halve the required cutting force) without having to change existing sharpening equipment and staff. They simply add a feedback loop into their sharpening processes.
The benefits of sharpness measurement and sharper knives
Traditional Religious Slaughter
Other General meat processing benefits
Click here to read an article released by The National Provisioner on how technology is being used to answer various slaughtering challenges. As part of this article Joe Regenstien, a professor of food science and head of the kosher and halal food initiative at Cornell University, discusses religious slaughter with regards to the strict knife sharpness standards and its impact on animal welfare during the slaughtering process. He talks the ability to objectively measure knife sharpness with technology such as the Anago knife sharpness tester as a way to adhere to and maintain these strict standards of sharpness.