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1. (WO2010076311) MACHINE AND METHOD FOR CANNING TUNA AND THE LIKE
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CLAIMS

1. Machine for canning tuna and similar food products, comprising a conveyor belt feeder (3), at least one dosing chamber aligned with said feeder (3) and formed in a rotor (1) rotatable in a plane perpendicular to the feed direction, a mouth (4) connecting the feeder (3) to said at least one dosing chamber, cutting means (5) suitable to separate the product introduced in the at least one dosing chamber from the bulk of fed product (T) so as to obtain a product cake (T'), shaping means suitable to shape said cake into the desired shape (T") and transferring means arranged at a second station reachable through a partial rotation of said rotor (1) and suitable to transfer the shaped cake (T") from the at least one dosing chamber into a can (B) carried by a can feeder, characterized in that said mouth (4) has a cross-section of substantially constant shape, the at least one dosing chamber is defined within a corresponding at least one shaping chamber (Ia) by means of shutters (9, 10) suitable to bound with flat surfaces the radial ends of said at least one shaping chamber, said shaping means consist of a shaped radial terminal (11) of the at least one shaping chamber (Ia) and at least one opposite shaped member (14) radially mobile between a rest position and a work position in which the product is pushed against said shaped radial terminal (11), and also in that said shutters (9, 10) are mobile between a rest position and a work position in which they occupy the ends of the at least one shaping chamber (Ia), and driving means for said mobile shutters (9, 10) and said at least one shaped member (14) are suitable to remove the former from the at least one shaping chamber and to subsequently perform said radial movement of the latter when the at least one shaping chamber is still aligned with the feeder (3). 2. Machine according to claim 1, characterized in that it further includes a plug

(8) longitudinally mobile between a rest position and a work position in which it acts as back of the at least one dosing chamber, said plug (8) being connected to a control system (13) comprising a pressure sensor whose output signal is used for the feedback control of the feeder (3) of the product to be canned. 3. Machine according to the preceding claim, characterized in that the pressure sensor is a load cell.

4. Machine according to claim 2 or 3, characterized in that it further includes a scale arranged downstream from the second station to detect the weight of the cans (B) leaving the machine and whose output signal is used for the feedback control of the adjustment of the pressure sensor. 5. Machine according to one of claims 2 to 4, characterized in that it further includes a device for adjusting the work position of the mobile plug (8).

6. Machine according to any of the preceding claims, characterized in that the area of the cross-section of the mouth (4) decreases between the inlet cross-section and the outlet cross-section to an extent suitable to achieve a slight pre-compression of the product.

7. Machine according to any of the preceding claims, characterized in that the cross-section of the mouth (4) has a quadrangular shape at the inlet cross-section and a quadrangular shape with bevelled corners at the outlet cross-section.

8. Machine according to any of the preceding claims, characterized in that it includes a plurality of dosing chambers formed side by side in the rotor (1) and one or more vertical cutting means (6) passing through the mouth (4) so as to divide longitudinally the bulk of fed product (T) in as many parts as the dosing chambers, as well as a wedge diverter (7) arranged downstream from each cutting means (6) and suitable to direct a portion of product towards the relevant dosing chamber. 9. Machine according to the preceding claim and to one of claims 2 to 5, characterized in that all the mobile plugs (8) are joined to form a single plug (8) and connected to a single pressure sensor.

10. Machine according to claim 8 or 9, characterized in that it includes at least three dosing chambers and in that each chamber is slightly offset in the radial direction with respect to the adjacent chambers.

11. Machine according to any of the preceding claims, characterized in that the feeder for cans (B) is a second rotor (2) rotatable in a plane parallel to the plane of rotation of the first rotor (1) and partially overlapping the latter.

12. Method for canning tuna and similar food products by means of a machine according to any of the preceding claims, characterized in that it includes the following sequence of steps: a) feeding the product to a dosing chamber at a first station by means of a feeder (3) and a connecting mouth (4) unsuitable to perform any significant shaping of the bulk of product (T) passing therethrough; b) separating the product introduced in the dosing chamber from the bulk of fed product (T) so as to obtain a product cake (T'); c) shaping said product cake (T') into the desired shape; d) moving the shaped cake (T") to a second station; e) transferring the shaped cake (T") into a can (B).

13. Method according to the preceding claim, characterized in that the product feeding step a) also includes, during the passage through the connecting mouth (4), longitudinally dividing the bulk of fed product (T) into a plurality of portions prior to introducing it into a plurality of dosing chambers.

14. Method according to claim 12 or 13, characterized in that the product feeding step a) also includes, during the passage through the connecting mouth (4), a slight pre-compression of the product. 15. Method according to one of claims 12 to 14, characterized in that it further includes an additional step f) of weighing the can (B) containing the shaped cake (T"), followed by a further step g) of feedback controlling step b) according to the outcome of said weighing.