Food safety, quality and value research brought the meat industry together for two days of workshops on 15 and 16 March in Hamilton.
It was another full-house – and waiting list – for the popular AgResearch Meat Industry Workshop 2017 at its Ruakura campus on the first day. Around 115 delegates from meat processors, research organisations and government departments gathered at what is now a staple event on the industry’s calendar.
The two dozen or so speakers were ably facilitated this year by AgResearch meat products and supply science impact leader Dr Cameron Craigie.
“The workshop brings meat industry, government and researchers together to exchange ideas and information,” he said.
Dr Craigie was delighted with the turnout again, which this year featured visitors and speakers from both South America and Europe, and talked of the need for a new venue in 2018 if the trend kept up.
The science day was split into three sessions – food safety and provenance; markets and quality and processing and value – highlighting plenty of interesting work to keep everyone happy.
STEC: a focus for food safety
STEC – the top seven shiga toxin producing Escheria Coli – was the primary focus of the first session covering food safety and provenance. This was convened by AgResearch scientist Dr Gale Brightwell, who also gave an update on progress made at the New Zealand Food Safety Science Research Centre.
Several speakers updated delegates on the impressively broad range of work on STEC control on beef here in New Zealand. This is all particularly important for the $1.5 billion worth of beef exports to the US, which has stringent controls in place following a mid-1990s E.coli H:O157 outbreak that saw the pathogen officially named as an adulterant of meat.
Presentations from AgResearch scientists Dr Adrian Cookson and Shane Leath, Massey University PhD student Springer Browne and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Dr Helen Withers covered on-farm research, the identification of key intervention points in the chain, detection of the pathogens and also moves to speed up testing and make it cheaper.
Reporting back from a recent meeting in the US on pathogen control and regulatory compliance in beef processing, Meat Industry Association (MIA) technical executive Kevin Cresswell underscored the importance for industry to get it right. He also talked about how pathogen detection is changing due to Whole Genome Sequencing becoming more understood, powerful and economical.
Speakers concurred the New Zealand meat industry is currently in a “really good space” around STEC, largely thanks to industry’s food safety management systems. However, it was acknowledged this can change at a moment’s notice.
Next steps will include testing on other meat species and also for different STECs that might be identified by the other markets, such as the European Union, for example.
Dr Marlon Reis, AgResearch, also gave an update on developments in non-invasive meat authenticity in the session.
Extracting more value from protein
High pressure processing (HPP) and extraction of protein ingredients from red meat came to the fore in the second ‘Markets and Quality’ session, convened by AgResearch scientist Mustafa Farouk. This showed more of researchers’ efforts to add value for industry.
Papers by Anita Sikes, from Australian research agency CSIRO, and Lincoln University’s Dr Jim Morton showed research behind the use of HPP in preparing value-added products that meet changing consumer patterns, including ageing, personalised ready-meals and the emerging Asian markets.
Extracting high value functional ingredients from low-value meat trimmings is the latest work in a new Food Industry Enabling Technologies (FIET) project outlined by Dr Clara Bah (AgResearch). Her colleague Dr Maryanne Pirie explained later about what they had learned about the use of sensory panels in assessing meat quality within FIET’s sous-vide project.
Other speakers in the second session dealt with bio-active peptides in meat (Dr Santanu Deb-Choudury, AgResearch), results from a study looking at consumer preferences in four European markets for lamb and beef eating quality from animals raised on pasture and/or with supplementary feeds (Dr Carolina Realini), Pam Whitfield (AsureQuality) gave an update on traceability systems, while Harvey Ho from the University of Auckland presented results from consumer research in China on hotpot rolls.
The day finished with a look at processing and value and featured overseas speakers (Professor Peter Purslow from UNCPB Argentina and Dr Rodrigo Morales, INIA Chile) updating the audience on work to add value to meat in their countries.
The use of light to detect bacteria on carcases was the presentation from Auckland University physicist Dr Frederique Vanholsbeeck, while AgResearch microbiologist John Mills looked at sources of contamination in the processing plant. Dr Craigie also gave delegates the latest information about his study of lamb intramuscular fat.
Further information and copies of the presentations are available from here
Delving further into meat industry innovation
The next day saw around 60 of the delegates, including representatives from MIA member companies, also attending the trade organisation’s annual research and development workshop.
According to convenor MIA innovation programme manager Richard McColl, the programme highlight was a more detailed delve into the MIA’s collaborative innovation programme, as well as an opportunity for MIA Innovation to update industry on progress to date. It also gave members the chance to give feedback on the work on the development of lactic acid and peroxide interventions, where work had got to on the development of bio-phage technology to mitigate against the top seven STEC, plus PhD papers on quorum sensing and colour stability.
Keynote speaker was Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority Teagasc’s Declan Troy, assistant director of research and director of the technology transfer office who shared science-based wisdom about knowledge transfer to the food sector.
Also included in the agenda was more detail about the New Zealand science funding landscape, putting R&D into practice in New Zealand, an update on the MIA’s own R&D activity, an overview on AgResearch’s core science projects into meat inspection and the NZ STEC programme.
This article appeared in Food NZ magazine (April/May 2017) and is reproduced here with permission.