Technical Terms & Definitions

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Any production manager, operations manager, or IT specialist who has ever shopped for a data solution for food-production processes knows that this is a complicated, evolving industry. In an effort to help simplify this process, we have organized a glossary of technical definitions related to this complex field where food production, process improvement, and technology innovation intersect. If you have a term that should be added, please contact kathy.barbeire@catsquared.com.

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833 cure: A curing brine containing 8 pounds of salt, 3 pounds of sugar and 3 ounces of nitrite. CAT Squared’s Mixing application enforces recipes set in a product’s specification guaranteeing a consistent brine.
ABC Costing: (Activity Based Costing)  A costing methodology that identifies activities in an organization and assigns the cost of each activity with resources to all products and services according to the actual consumption by each. Read CAT Squared’s case study on activity based costing software for the food industry.
Acceptance sampling: A component of quality control and is useful when the cost of testing is high compared to the cost of passing a defective item or when testing is destructive. It is a compromise between doing 100% inspection and no inspection at all.
Antimicrobial: An antimicrobial is an agent that kills microorganisms or stop their growth.
Anti-mortem inspection: The inspection of live animals and birds prior to being slaughtered.
AQL hold: (Acceptance Quality Limits) A hold on items received until quality of the goods received can be assessed. CAT Squared’s FSQM Module accommodates all hold types.
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BAM: (Business Activity Monitoring – A.K.A Business Activity Management) The use of technology to proactively define and analyze critical opportunities and risks in an enterprise to maximize profitability and optimize efficiency. The BAM paradigm can be used to evaluate external as well as internal factors.
BAP: (Best Aquaculture Practices) Certification standards developed by the Global Aquaculture Alliance.
Batch production: The practice of making large lots of a product to gain economic efficiencies by reducing machine changeover time.
BOM Software: Software designed to automate and manage BOM processes.
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BOM: (Bill of Materials) A list of the raw materials, sub-assemblies, intermediate assemblies, sub-components, parts and the quantities of each needed to manufacture an end product.
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BRC British Retail Consortium is a trade association in the United Kingdom representing all forms of retailers.
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Brine: The solution which contains the cure and water that is pumped into meat for curing. CAT Squared’s Mixing application enforces recipes set in a product’s specification guaranteeing a consistent brine.
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CanadaGAP: (Canadian Horticultural Council On-Farm Food Safety Program) A national program consisting of food safety standards and a certification system for the safe production, storage, packing, repacking, wholesale and brokerage of fresh fruits and vegetables.
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CAPA: (Corrective and Preventive Action) Improvements to an organization’s processes taken to eliminate causes of non-conformities or other undesirable situations. (See FSQM Module for more information.)
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Cascading hold:  A hold that is applied to the object and any product attached to that object. (Example: A cascading hold will affect a mix lot and everything that was made from that mix lot.) CAT Squared’s FSQM Module accommodates all hold types.
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CIP: (Clean-in-place) A method to clean closed systems (interior pipes, filters, fittings, etc) without taking them apart.
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CFIA: Canadian Food Inspection Agency
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Codex Alimentarius: The Codex Alimentarius, or “Food Code” is a collection of standards, guidelines and codes of practice adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. The Commission, also known as CAC, is the central part of the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme and was established by FAO and WHO to protect consumer health and promote fair practices in food.
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Control (noun): The state wherein correct procedures are being followed and criteria are being met.
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Control (verb): To take all necessary actions to ensure and maintain compliance with criteria established in the HACCP plan.
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Control limits: (A.K.A natural process limits) Horizontal lines drawn on a statistical process control chart, usually at a distance of ±3 standard deviations of the plotted statistic from the statistic’s mean.
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Control measure: Any action and activity that can be used to prevent or eliminate a food safety hazard or reduce it to an acceptable level.
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Conversion: The act or process of converting; a physical transformation from one material to another. (i.e. conversion of a bone-in loin to multiple finished products, backrib, tenderloin, boneless loin, riblet, trimming, etc.)
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Corrective action: Any action to be taken when the results of monitoring at the CCP indicate a loss of control. (See FSQM Module for more information.)
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Critical Control Point (CCP): A step at which control can be applied and is essential to prevent or eliminate a food safety hazard or reduce it to an acceptable level. (See FSQM Module for more information.)
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Critical limit: A criterion which separates acceptability from unacceptability.
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CRM system: (Customer Relationship Management) Practices, strategies and technologies that companies use to manage and analyze customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle, with the goal of improving business relationships with customers and assisting in customer retention.
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Cure: A mixture of the ingredients used in meat curing which may include salt, sugar, sodium nitrite, sodium erythorbate, phosphate, spices and water. CAT Squared’s Mixing application enforces recipes set in a product’s specification guaranteeing product consistency.
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Curing: Adding salt to meat for the purpose of preservation. CAT Squared’s Raw Spice Management application tracks spices by date and lot number from receiving through production to shipping, allowing plants to pinpoint loss, increase yield, and manage recalls.
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Custom exempt: The inspection status of a meat packing plant that slaughters animals as a service and does not sell any meat products.
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Cutting test: Cutting of the wholesale cut into retail cuts to determine the retail yield and value for the purpose of maintaining operating margins.
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Dark cutter: Beef with lean tissue that is dark in color. It is the result of long term stress that has reduced the glycogen content in muscle prior to slaughter, The muscle pH of a dark cutter is generally high (approx. 6.5) which results in higher water-holding capacity and more light absorbency than normal thus causing a dark lean color.
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Dehairing machine: A machine with rotating rubber paddles that removes the hair from a scalded hog carcass.
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Depilatating: The process of removing hair from a hog carcass during slaughter.
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Deviation: Failure to meet a critical limit.
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DFD: (Dark Firm and Dry) A condition in meat where the pH declines slightly to pH 6.8 and the meat is darker in color, firmer in texture, and drier in appearance. This condition is caused by long term stress of sufficient duration to deplete glycogen stores in muscle prior to slaughter.
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DIP: (Dead in Pen) Term used in meat production noting when animals are found dead in a holding pen.
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DOA: (Dead on Arrival) Term used when receiving live animals from a supplier for meat production noting when animals are deceased when they arrive at the plant.
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Draft: A group of live animals (hogs) placed on the receiving scale to get their weight.
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Dressing percent: The percentage of the live animal weight which is the carcass. It is determined by dividing the hot-carcass-weight by the live animal weight then multiplying by 100. Also referred to as yield.
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Dry cure: The application of a curing mixture of salt, sugar, sodium nitrite, erythorbate and spices by rubbing them on the product to be cured. Generally only used on thin meat cuts.
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Dry heat cookery: The cooking of meat without presence of additional moisture. Examples of the such methods are roasting, broiling, grilling, panbroiling, panfrying, stirfry and deep fat frying. CAT Squared’s PTemps system provides automated continuous monitoring for a company’s cooked area.
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EDI: (Electronic Data Interchange) The electronic interchange of business information using a standardized format; a process which allows one company to send information to another company electronically rather than with paper.
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EMI: (Enterprise Manufacturing Intelligence) A term which applies to software used to bring a corporation’s manufacturing-related data together from many sources for the purposes of reporting, analysis, visual summaries, and passing data between enterprise-level and plant-floor systems.
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Emulsion mill: A piece of the machinery used in sausage production in which the chopped meat batter is passed through a plate containing small holes to create a stable meat batter for products such as frankfurters and bologna.
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ERP consulting firms: Firms that specialize in ERP deployment and systems integration. CAT Squared specializes in integrating plant-floor production data into ERP systems. A recent case study describes how CAT Squared integrated plant-floor data into an ERP system developed by SAP to provide activity-based costing capabilities.
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ERP system: (Enterprise Resource Planning) Business process management software that allows an organization to use a system of integrated applications to manage the business and automate many back office functions related to technology, services and human resources.
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Evisceration: Removal of the internal organs from the animal at the time of slaughter.
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Exsanguination: Bleeding the animal at the time of slaughter.
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Fiery carcass: A condition in which an animal has been excited shortly before slaughter so when the animal is bled, blood is trapped in the capillaries of the subcutaneous fat, resulting in a pink tinged carcass.
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Flow diagram: A systematic representation of the sequence of steps or operations used in the production or manufacture of a particular food item.
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Food safety audit software: Sofware capable of managing data from safety/quality checks to produce audit reports used to help select suppliers, demonstrate due diligence for customers or validate internal policies and procedures. CAT Squared’s FSQM Module is an example of food safety audit software.
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Food safety compliance software: Software that enables control & visibility to comply with regulatory requirements & mitigate risk through automation. CAT Squared’s FSQM Module is an example of food safety compliance software.
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Freezing hold: Similar to a time release hold, this hold is set for items that must be held in a freezer for a predetermined amount of time before shipping. CAT Squared’s FSQM Module accommodates all hold types.
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FSIS: (Food Safety and Inspection Service) The USDA agency responsible for federal meat inspection.
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FSMA: The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 4, 2011. The FSMA has given the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) new authorities to regulate the way foods are grown, harvested and processed.
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FSSC 22000: (Food Safety System Certification) A certification scheme for food manufacturers based on the integration of ISO 22000.
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GAA: (Global Aquaculture Alliance) An international non-governmental organization dedicated to advocacy, education and leadership in responsible aquaculture for the seafood industry.
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GFSI: The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is a private organization, established and managed by the Consumer Goods Forum. The GFSI maintains a scheme to benchmark food safety standards for manufacturers as well as farm assurance standards.
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GLOBALG.A.P. A farm assurance program, translating consumer requirements into Good Agricultural Practice.
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GMP: (Good Manufacturing Practice) A system for ensuring that products are consistently produced and controlled according to quality standards.
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Grade and yield: Marketing transaction whereby payment is made on the basis of carcass weight and quality grade.
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GRMS: (Global Red Meat Standard) A scheme developed for the red meat industry, focusing on critical areas affecting the maintenance of high meat safety requirements. The objective of the Global Red Meat Standard is to deliver transparency on food safety, quality and hygiene in factories that slaughter, cut, debone and handle meat and meat products. The transparency is delivered through an independent certification process based on ISO/IEC 17065.
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HACCP Decision Tree: A decision-support tool that aids in identifying critical control points by using a tree-like graph or model of decisions and their possible consequences, including chance event outcomes, resource costs, and utility. Here’s an example of a decision tree.
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HACCP plan: A document prepared in accordance with the principles of HACCP to ensure control of hazards which are significant for food safety in the segment of the food chain under consideration. (See CAT Squared’s FSQM Module for more information.)
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HACCP: (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) A system which identifies, evaluates, and controls hazards which are significant for food safety. (See CAT Squared’s FSQM Module for more information.)
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HARPC: (Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls) A provision of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act  requiring food manufacturers, packers, bottlers and storage facilities to identify food safety and adulteration risks associated with their foods and processes, implement controls to minimize the risks, verify the controls are working, and design and implement corrective actions to address any deviations from the controls that might arise. (See CAT Squared’s FSQM Module for more information.)
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Hazard analysis: The process of collecting and evaluating information on hazards and conditions leading to their presence to decide which are significant for food safety and therefore should be addressed in the HACCP plan. (See CAT Squared’s FSQM Module for more information.)
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Hazard: A biological, chemical or physical agent in, or condition of, food with the potential to cause an adverse health effect.
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Herd origin: A livestock supplier.
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Hold: A state in which products and materials are identified, isolated, and held pending determination of their final disposition. CAT Squared’s FSQM Module accommodates all hold types.
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Hot carcass weight: The weight of the carcass immediately after slaughter.
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IaaS: (Infrastructure as a Service) a form of cloud computing that provides virtualized computing resources over the Internet.
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IEC: (International Electrotechnical Commission) A body whose membership organizations participate in the development of international standards related to fields of technical activity.
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IMPS: (Institutional Meat Purchasers Specifications) Developed by the USDA to provide hotel, restaurant and institutional meat businesses with uniform cutting guidelines. Each product described has an IMP’s designated number along with a product name.
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IoT: (Internet of Things) The inter-networking of physical devices (also referred to as “connected devices” and “smart devices”), buildings, and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data.
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Irradiation: A method of preservation in which the product is exposed to either x-ray or gamma radiation to kill microorganisms and preserve the product.
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ISO: International Organization for Standardization, responsible for the ISO 9000, ISO 14000, ISO 27000, ISO 22000 and other international management standards.
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Knowledge management system: Any kind of IT system that stores and retrieves knowledge, improves collaboration, locates knowledge sources, mines repositories for hidden knowledge, captures and uses knowledge, or in some other way enhances the KM process.
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Kosher: Meat from animals slaughtered under Rabbinical supervision.
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Manufacturing ERP: Software that assists with the planning and execution of manufacturing projects by tracking suppliers, materials and production costs and supporting the maintenance of relationships with end customers.
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Manufacturing software solutions: Includes software modules to plan, schedule, monitor, manage, analyze and report on the manufacturing process from end-to-end, giving manufacturers real-time visibility and control over their manufacturing supply chain.
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MES: (Manufacturing Execution System) A control system for managing and monitoring work-in-process on a factory floor. An MES keeps track of all manufacturing information in real time, receiving up-to-the-minute data from robots, machine monitors and employees. Each year, CAT Squared participates in the MES Survey produced by CGI on behalf of MESA. This  survey has identified CAT Squared as a unique MES fit for food-industry processes each year since we started participating.
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MOM: (Manufacturing Operations Management) A methodology for viewing an end-to-end manufacturing process with a view to optimizing efficiency.
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Monitor: The act of conducting a planned sequence of observations or measurements of control parameters to assess whether a CCP (Critical Control Point) is under control.
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NAMPs: (National Association of Meat Purveyors) An organization that has established guideline for primal and subprimal meat cuts that can be used in purchasing meat product for the hotel, restaurant, and institutional trade.
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Net Weight: Actual, computed, or estimated weight of a good without its container and/or packaging. Gross weight less tare weight equals net weight.
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Non conformance: When a product or procedure does not meet the specifications or requirements in some way. Non-conformances are addressed with corrective actions.
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NR: (Noncompliance report) FSIS requires a Noncompliance Report (NR) to be completed whenever inspection-program personnel determine that an establishment has failed to meet one or more regulatory requirements, explaining the nature of the regulatory action.
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OEE: Overall Equipment Effectiveness. CAT Squared offers an OEE add-on that is part of the FSQM Module.
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PaaS: (Platform as a Service) a category of cloud computing services that provides a platform allowing customers to develop, run, and manage applications without the complexity of building and maintaining the infrastructure.
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Picking: The process of removing feather from poultry during slaughter.
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Plate freezing: A method of freezing were the meat product is placed directly on metal plates that have been cooled to 14F to -22F. This method works best with thin cuts.
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Plate: A wholesale cut of the beef carcass that include ribs 6 through 12. The retail cuts of the short rib and skirt originate from this wholesale cut.
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PLC: (Programmable Logic Controller) An industrial digital computer which has been ruggedised and adapted for the control of manufacturing processes, such as assembly lines, or robotic devices, or any activity that requires high reliability control and ease of programming and process fault diagnosis.
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Positive release hold: The release of product out of quarantine only after completing satisfactorily analytical and microbiological safety tests and confirming that legal and specified quality standards have been met. CAT Squared’s FSQM Module accommodates all hold types.
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Post-mortem inspection: Inspection of the internal organs and carcass after the animal has been slaughtered to determine wholesomeness.
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Poultry Inspection Act: An act of Congress in 1957 that established inspection standard for poultry similar those established for other meat products under the Meat Inspection Act of 1906.
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PPE: Personal Protective Equipment.
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Pre-blending: The addition of salt and nitrite to ground meat several hours or days prior to sausage manufacture to help extract protein help in managing inventory. CAT Squared’s Mixing application enforces recipes set in a product’s specification guaranteeing a consistent blend.
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Preliminary yield grade: A yield initially assigned to a beef carcass as determined by the estimated by the adjusted backfat thickness over the rib-eye area.
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Prerequisite program: Practices and conditions needed prior to and during the implementation of HACCP and which are essential for food safety. For information on paperless HACCP checks, read about our FSQM Module.
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Process capability index formula: In process improvement efforts, the process capability index or process capability ratio is a statistical measure of process capability: the ability of a process to produce output within specification limits.
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PSE: (Pale Soft and Exudative) A condition generally found in pork in which the meat is pale in color, soft in texture and exhibit a loss in fluids (i.e exudative). This is caused by unusually high temperatures, rapid glycolysis causing a rapid pH drop, and an early onset of rigor mortis in muscle. It is most frequently found in muscles from pigs that are genetically stress susceptible (i.e. PSS).
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PSS: (Porcine Stress Syndrome) A genetic condition in swine in which the animal is reaction adversely to stress. Animal that exhibit high stress susceptibility experience heart stroke, shock, and circulatory collapse. Animals that may have PSS may also have externa signs such as extreme muscling, anxious behavior , muscle tremors and reddening of the skin.
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QA: (Quality Assurance) A part of quality management focused on providing confidence that quality requirements will be fulfilled. CAT Squared’s FSQM Module automates quality management data collection and reporting.
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Quality grades: Each grade denotes a specific level of quality as determined by the USDA.
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Quality grades: Grades such as Prime, Choice, and Select that group slaughter cattle and carcasses into value- and palatability-based categories.  Grades are determined primarily by marbling and age of animal.
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Retail weight basis: The amount of the meat that is sold or consumed based on the weight of the retail cuts.
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SaaS: (Software as a Service) a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted.
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SFDC: (Shop Floor Data Collection) Often refers to MES software systems designed to monitor machine performance and track production in real time. CAT Squared specializes in shop floor data collection for food industries, including fish processing, poultry processing, pork processing, beef processing, lamb processing, turkey production and processing, egg production, seafood processing, ready-to-cook meals, ready-to-eat meals, and warehouse cold storage management.
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Shelf life: The length of time for which an item remains usable, fit for consumption, or saleable.
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Shipping hold: A hold that prevents items from being shipped pending determination of their final disposition. CAT Squared’s FSQM Module accommodates all hold types.
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Shrink: Loss of weight; commonly used in the loss of liveweight when animals are marketed.
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Shrink tunnel: A heated tunnel mounted over or around a conveyor system.
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Six Sigma: A set of management techniques intended to improve business processes by greatly reducing the probability that an error or defect will occur.
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SKU: (Stock keeping unit) A product and service identification code for a store or product, often portrayed as a machine-readable bar code that helps track the item for inventory.
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SPC chart: A graph used to study how a process changes over time. CAT Squared’s FSQM Module now includes SPC charting capabilties. These charts can also be displayed in our Executive Dashboard system.
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SOP: Standard Operating Procedure.
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SPC software: Software that automates the data collection process for statistical process control.
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SPC: (Statistical Process Control) A method of quality control in which statistical methods are employed to monitor and control a process. CAT Squared’s FSQM Module now includes SPC charting capabilities.
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SPS: (Sanitation Performance Standard) FSIS’s Sanitation Performance Standards are regulatory standards applicable to all official meat and poultry establishments. To meet the sanitation performance standards, establishments may develop and employ sanitation or processing procedures customized to the nature and volume of their production. CAT Squared’s FSQM Module helps enforce standards set by the manufacturer.
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SQF: Safe Quality Food.
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SSOP: Sanitation Standard Operating Procedure.
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Step: A point, procedure, operation or stage in the food chain including raw materials, from primary production to final consumption.
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Stunning (CO2 or electrical): The act of rendering an animal unconscious so that slaughter may be carried out without avoidable fear, anxiety, pain, suffering, or distress.
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Supply chain monitoring system: A system that links orders, shipments, containers and inventory together in an operational data store for end-to-end supply chain visibility. A combination of CAT Squared’s software modules provide this level of visibility for the beef industry, pork industry, poultry industry, egg industry, fish and seafood industry, produce industry, bakeriesfurther processing and ready-to-cook / ready-to-eat meals.
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Suspect: An animal suspected to have a disease. The USDA will need to approve in order to slaughter.
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Time release hold: A hold that will automatically release after a predetermined time. CAT Squared’s FSQM Module accommodates all hold types.
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TOBEC: (Total Body Electrical Conductivity) An instrumental method of measuring the amount of the lean tissue in a carcass by passing it through an electromagnetic field.
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TQA: (Transport Quality Assurance) A program that helps swine transporters, producers and handlers understand how to handle, move and transport pigs and the potential impacts of those actions on pig well-being and/or pork quality.
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UPC: (Uniform Product Code) A computer bar code used to identify product. This would be a universal code for that product.
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URMIS: (Uniform Retail Meat Identity Standard) A systematic method of identifying retail cuts by their species wholesale and retail names.
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USDA subject: An animal outside of USDA specifications for slaughter or acting abnormally slow.
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Validation: Obtaining evidence that the elements of the HACCP plan are effective.
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Verification: The application of methods, procedures, tests and other evaluations, in addition to monitoring to determine compliance with the HACCP plan.
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VIA: (Video Image Analysis) A video image is analyzed via sophisticated computer techniques to estimate factors associated with carcass value.
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WIP Tracking Software: Software system tracking the status of work-in-progress on the shop floor in real time. CAT Squared’s Production Control Module would be considered WIP Tracking Software.
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WMS: (Warehouse Management System) A  software application, designed to support warehouse or distribution center management and staff. CAT Squared offers a WMS Module designed for the food industry that manages inventory, dry goods, and cold storage and reduces spoilage by enforcing age rules and FIFO requirements.
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Yield grades: USDA grades identifying differences in cutability–the boneless, fat trimmed retail cuts from the round, loin, rib, and chuck.
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