Creating the advantage through research

Workshop participants listened intently to speakers, including AgResearch senior scientist Marlon Reis, pictured here. He spoke on two topics: confinement odour; and non-invasive assessment to establish meat provenance.

The annual two-day smorgasbord of technical meat sessions took place in Hamilton on 15 and 16 March. Over 100 representatives from most of New Zealand’s red meat companies mingled with scientists, engineers and associated companies once again to network, discuss and develop ideas at the successful and productive event.

The first day of sessions, hosted by AgResearch and opened by its chief executive Tom Richardson, featured 20 speakers in a comprehensive look at how research is helping the red meat sector industry in Creating the Advantage.

How and why future meat research is important was put into context by meat industry commentator Allan Barber, the first keynote speaker. “To ensure the sheep and beef industry is improved for the future,” he put it succinctly. He challenged researchers to find ways for the meat industry to expand its range of higher quality, value-added products.

Co-organiser Mustafa Farouk kicked off the first ‘Added Value Products’ session with news of his team’s latest research into consumer preferences for fat in the Asian delicacy, beef hotpot rolls. Dr Emma Bermingham of the AgResearch Food Nutrition & Health team followed to talk about the ‘Naturality of Meat’ project aimed at understanding how New Zealand meat can be differentiated from its competitors.

WRA president Tim Juzefowicz (right, standing) dealing with a question during first session panel. Other speakers left to right are: Shane Leath Tricia Mills, Mustafa Farouk (all AgResearch) and Anna Yallop (BPA).
Added-value question time: WRA president Tim Juzefowicz (right, standing) dealing with a question. Other speakers left to right are: Shane Leath Tricia Mills, Mustafa Farouk (all AgResearch) and Anna Yallop (BPA).

Creating value from bio-resources

Other speakers in the session covered creating value from what were once considered as ‘waste’ streams from processing plants, but are now thought of as the raw tertiary bio-resources for a whole range of valuable products. Anna Yallop explained the Bio-Resource Processing Alliance’s initiatives to increase revenue from these streams, while AgResearch senior engineer Shane Leath looked at ways to use them sustainably in the ‘pots of gold’ – petfood, protein and nutraceuticals. His work led neatly into a keynote presentation from World Renderers Association (WRA) president, Tim Juzefowicz of Australian company CFS Proteins. Work at the WRA is focusing on what Juzefowicz called the ‘elephant in the room’ – how to ensure the removal before rendering of physical hazards, such as the commonly found plastic ear tags, wires and glass, to ensure maximum value can be obtained from the raw materials.

Getting value from quality

After lunch, sponsored by Rezare Systems, delegates settled down for a session examining how to get ‘Value from Quality’. Keynote speaker Nigel Lucas from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) talked about how research, industry and the regulator work together. His take home message was to involve more MPI personnel earlier in conversations to help ease new products and processes through the Risk Management Plan process.

AgResearch scientist Clara Bah spoke of progress made in the FIET Programme, aimed at adding value to low-value cuts through sous vide and PEF processing technologies. If successful, the substantial opportunity could add $7,500-$8,500 per tonne to the cuts leading up to an additional $2 million a year by 2020, it has been calculated. ANZCO and Hastings company Fire and Ice Sous Vide are involved in the project.
AgResearch scientist Clara Bah spoke of progress made in the FIET Programme, aimed at adding value to low-value cuts through sous vide and PEF processing technologies. If successful, the substantial opportunity could add $7,500-$8,500 per tonne to the cuts leading up to an additional $2 million a year by 2020, it has been calculated. ANZCO and Hastings company Fire and Ice Sous Vide are involved in the project.

“Some elements of complexity are starting to come through,” remarked facilitator Brian Dingwall, as the session’s AgResearch speakers took delegates through their paces on a wide range of quality-related research. First up was post-doctoral scientist Clara Bah (pictured left) – part of a team exploring how low-value meat cuts could be transformed into premium export products using two food processing technologies: sous-vide and pulsed electric field (PEF) in the Food Industry Enabling Technologies Project (FIET).

Others updated on their work looking at: meat spoilage bacteria and its effect on shelf-life (Dr John Mills); how to optimise fat levels in meat (Tricia Johnson); the effect of cooking on meat proteins (Santanu Deb-Choudary); non-invasive spectral imaging for the prediction of lamb meat quality attributes (Adam Stuart, a Riddet Institute Masters graduate); and ‘thinking outside the plate’ when looking at new opportunities for meaty foods (Dr Scott Knowles). Lincoln University’s associate professor Jim Morton talked about meat research his team is doing on the biochemical changes in longissimus dorso muscles as a result of high pressure processing.

The final session dealt with Food Provenance and Assurance. On the assurance side, AgResearch scientists Adrian Cookson, Marlon Reis and Jim Webster covered  on-farm controls for STEC (shiga toxin-producing E.coli) in calves, work on confinement odour in vacuum-packed meat and ‘meating’ the moving target of expectations from consumers on animal welfare.

Scion scientist Saad Hussain also talked about improving carton integrity in the chilled food supply chain and the availability of the organisation’s new state-of-the-art ‘White Room’ – which can help with packaging experiments looking at box performance and lifetime and the development of boxes that perform well in real supply chain conditions.  More AgResearch speakers – Marlon Reis and Arvind Subbaraj – talked about meat provenance issues including non-invasive assessment to establish meat provenance by origin and freshness and metabolic fingerprinting of New Zealand meat using DART (Data analysis real-time).

Creating more value from the data every meat exporter collects every day in the processing works and during transport was the topic of the final speaker of the day, consultant  Mark Loeffen of Delytics. He looked at supply chain lessons learned from the horticultural industry when data was harnessed appropriately.

A discussion panel was held before participants repaired for the popular barbecue, this year sponsored by Alliance Group, ANZCO and Firstlight Foods.

More information about the AgResearch Creating the Advantage day, including copies of most of the presentations, where available, can be found at http://www.agresearch.co.nz/news/meat-industry-workshop-2016-15-march-2016/

MIA’s annual R&D workshop

Richard McColl (right) with Indrawati Oey, professor of food science, University of Otago.
At the AgResearch Creating the Advantage workshop are: Richard McColl (right) with Indrawati Oey, professor of food science, University of Otago.

Most of the industry members also attended the second day, the Meat Industry Association (MIA)’s annual research and development workshop.

“We were updating industry on the MIA’s collaborative R & D programmes along with input from providers and regulators, as well as ongoing MIA Innovation projects,” explained MIA innovation programme manager Richard McColl.

Alongside updates on industry R&D and a review of the industry’s R&D strategy before morning tea, participants also heard about Lincoln University’s R&D capability from Dr Jim Morton.

The main chunk of business related to the MIA Innovation Programme, covering industry trial results for bio-phages and developing the Super-7 cocktail to guard against E.coli H:O147. Also included were Carne Technologies and AgResearch speakers looked at emerging threats, antimicrobials and STEC prevalence-studies.

A new online product to support learning and assessment of the new Primary Hazard Analysis Critical control Point (HACCP) unit standard 28265, was also showcased at the MIA workshop.

Primary ITO has been collaborating with MPI on the development of the new programme. The work is initially focusing on MPI’s requirement for the meat industry to upskill to the new unit standard, which is likely to be mandated in legislation and the Overseas Market Access Requirements for specific countries.

“The new HACCP will build on our primary industries’ reputation for delivering quality food to customers worldwide and allow continued access for those products,” said Primary ITO product manager Sue Masson.

This article appeared in Food NZ magazine (April/May 2016) and is reproduced here with permission.

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