An Oscar for Australian meat science

August 20, 2010

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Murdoch University’s Professor David Pethick has shared in a national award for science research, the 2010 Australian Research Council Eureka Prize for Excellence in Research by an Interdisciplinary Team.

Professor Pethick was part of the Meat Standards Australia (MSA) Pathways Team, which designed the world’s first comprehensive paddock-to-plate meat grading system.

Professor Pethick led the MSA team in evaluating a number of key control points that determine the eating quality of beef and the major expansion of the MSA system to also include lamb and sheep meat.

He is also widely acknowledged for his strong role with industry in underpinning the adoption of the program, and earning the reputation as the ‘Layman’s Professor’ for converting complex science into clear industry outcomes for farmers, processors and retailers.

Professor Pethick said the grading system considered what people really wanted to eat.

“This internationally-lauded practice factors in tenderness, aesthetics, food safety and the origin of beef.

“It’s greatly contributed to Australia's status as one of the few countries in the world where meat consumption is no longer falling.”

The science uses consumer taste panels to verify results that meet consumer expectations for beef and sheep meat eating quality.

The program has increased the competitiveness of the beef sector in Australia and contributed $366 million to the value of the industry and Australia’s economy since its inception in 1999.

Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) Chairman Don Heatley said this was testament to growing consumer confidence in red meat products, with 85 per cent of Australian grocery buyers saying they trust their butcher or supermarket to sell good quality beef and lamb.

The MSA program’s collaborative and multidisciplinary approach has been funded by the Beef Cooperative Research Centre and Meat and Livestock Australia, and involved scientists from Marrinya Pty Ltd, University of New England, University of Melbourne, Murdoch University, CSIRO, Victorian Department of Primary Industries, Industry and Investment NSW and Cosign.

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