Meat in a healthy diet and STECs at NZIFST conference

Red meat’s place in a healthy diet and STEC control are the subjects for this year’s two red meat minded sessions (B4 and C4) on the afternoon of Tuesday 5 July at the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology (NZIFST) Conference in Rotorua.

Kaylene Larking: underpinning New Zealand’s $7.3 billion export sales of red meat products is a strong culture of research and development designed to increase returns for both processors and producers.
Kaylene Larking: underpinning New Zealand’s $7.3 billion export sales of red meat products is a strong culture of research and development designed to increase returns for both processors and producers.

Organiser of the meat sessions again this year is Rob Archibald, general manager of Taranaki Bio Extracts Ltd. Four speakers will focus on ‘Meat in a Healthy Diet’ in the first session, which he will chair. The Meat Industry Association’s Kaylene Larking will give an overview of three of the meat industry’s R&D and innovation programmes: Beef + Lamb Genetics, the Ovine Automation Consortium and MIA Innovation. All of the research is working together to build a sustainable future from farm to final product and to improve the safety of New Zealand meat and its workers, she says.

B+LNZ Inc’s new nutrition manager Emily Parks will talk about ‘The role of red meat in a child’s diet’, before Healthy Food Guide’s editor-in-chief Nikki Bezzant who will cover meat, health and the media. The final overseas speaker was yet to be confirmed, at the time of writing, but is understood to be a US expert in a webinar on red meat and cancer.

Control of shiga-toxin producing E.coli (STEC) bacteria, such as E.coli O157:H7, is really important to New Zealand for both food safety and market access reasons, says Dr Roger Cook of the Ministry for Primary Industries, chair of the second session (C4) devoted to this topic.

“Historically overseas, STECs from undercooked beef burgers and contaminated raw leafy green vegetables and seed sprouts have been implicated in large outbreaks of food-borne illness. Fortunately, that’s not the case in New Zealand, although the recent increase in consumption of raw drinking milk has seen several associated outbreaks of STEC illness, particularly in children,” he explains.

From the market perspective, all beef exported to the US that is intended for burger manufacture must be tested and test negative for STECs.

Texas A&M University’s Dr Gary Acuff will present on the latest STEC control strategies used in the US.
Texas A&M University’s Dr Gary Acuff will present on the latest STEC control strategies used in the US.

“The New Zealand meat industry and MPI have a comprehensive risk management programme of research and control measures to minimise the risk to our exports,“ he explains, adding that Dr Gary Acuff  (left) from Texas A&M University will present  information on the latest control strategies for STECs used in the US.

Other speakers in the STEC session, Andrew Brown and Delphine Rapp/Adrian Cookson of Massey University and AgResearch respectively, will cover studies looking at the prevalence of STECs on-farm and how they move between livestock and the farm environment.

Other sessions and speakers that will be of interest to meat industry people going to the conference are:

  • Wednesday 6 July – D3-3 Scion, the power of packaging; D3-4 Angel Bay Case Study, Rob Archibald; D4 – a joint voyage partnering for innovation (AgResearch scientists Mustafa Farouk, Emma Bermingham, Santanu Deb-Choudary, Marlon Reis); F3-4 Mike Boland, Riddet Institute, Novel technologies to improve the texture of meat, F1 ‘tracking the journey’; and G1 ‘Navigating the listeria challenge: (Food Act/Animal Products Act)
  • Thursday 7 July – H1 traceability workshop.

The 41st NZIFST Conference 2016 will take place from 4 to 7 July at the Rotorua Energy Events Centre. Its theme this year is ’Setting direction – journey from a position of strength’. See www.nzifst.org.nz/conference.asp for registration and other information.

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

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