Journal of Food Science, vol.73, no.6, 2008 (SCI-Expanded)
The dielectric properties must be defined to design efficient radio frequency (RF) and microwave (MW) processes by the food manufacturers. The objective of this study was to understand how frequency, temperature, and muscle fiber orientation influence the dielectric properties. The eye of round (Semitendinosus) muscle was selected because it contains large, relatively uniform muscle cells with similar muscle fiber orientation and relatively uniform chemical composition throughout the tissue. Dielectric properties were measured using an open-ended coaxial probe technique at 27, 915, and 1800 MHz and temperatures between -5 and 130°C. Power penetration depth was calculated. Since many commercially prepared, thermally processed, ready-to-eat entrees are made with frozen meat, dielectric property measurements were started from -5°C. The dielectric constant and dielectric loss factors were often higher for muscle with the muscle fiber measured in a parallel orientation to the probe compared to samples of the same treatment (for example, fresh or frozen) in a perpendicular tissue orientation at the same frequency and temperature. Dielectric constant and loss values for frozen beef tended to be higher than fresh beef at the same temperature and frequency. Tissue orientation appeared to have a greater effect on dielectric loss values at lower frequencies. Penetration depth tended to be greater when the direction of propagation was perpendicular to the muscle fiber. © 2008 Institute of Food Technologists®.