Modeling cooling of ready-to-eat meats by 3D finite element analysis: Validation in meat processing facilities

J. F. Cepeda, C. L. Weller, H. Thippareddi, M. Negahban, J. Subbiah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


A three-dimensional (3D) finite element model for simulating heat transfer during cooling of irregular-shaped ready-to-eat meat products was developed and validated. The heat transfer model considered conduction as the governing equation, subject to convection, radiation and moisture evaporation boundary conditions. A 3D finite element algorithm developed in Java™ was used to solve the model. The algorithm generated solutions for meshes containing 4-node tetrahedral volume elements and 3-node triangular boundary elements. Product geometries were generated from CT-scan images of the meat products. The model was adapted to receive input parameters that can be easily provided by a meat processors including air relative humidity, air temperature, air velocity, type of casing, duration of water shower, product weight, and estimated core temperature of product prior to entering the cooling chamber. Model validation was conducted in four commercial facilities, under normal processing conditions. Temperatures predicted by the model were in agreement with observed values. Average root-mean-square error (RMSE) was 1.19 ± 0.54 °C for core temperatures, 1.73 ± 0.48 °C for temperatures 0.05 m from core to surface, and 2.01 ± 1.01 °C for surface temperatures. The developed heat transfer model was integrated with predictive microbiology models through a food safety website: The integration can be useful for estimating the severity of cooling deviations and resulting microbiological safety caused by unexpected cooling process disruptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)450-461
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Food Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2013


  • Chilling
  • Computer simulation
  • FEA
  • Finite element method
  • Food safety
  • Heat transfer
  • JAVA programming
  • Meat processing
  • Predictive microbiology
  • Thermal processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science


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