Cowra scientists on the world stage

Professor David Hopkins, Dr Steph Fowler and PhD student Bridgette Logan.

Professor David Hopkins, Dr Steph Fowler and PhD student Bridgette Logan.

At the recent 65th International Congress of Meat Science and Technology (ICoMST), held in Berlin, Germany, two staff and one PhD student based at the NSW Department of Primary Industries, Centre for Red Meat and Sheep Development in Cowra presented the latest research findings.

In total the Meat Science team was involved in the presentation of 11 papers.

Of these papers, five were from collaborative research undertaken by post-graduate students at Shandong Agricultural University (SDAU), the University of Melbourne and the Norwegian University of Life (Sciences NULS) whom Professor David Hopkins co-supervises.

PhD student Bridgette Logan, who is supervised by Professor Hopkins and Dr Stephanie Fowler from the centre and Professor Leigh Schmidtke (CSU, Wagga) presented two papers on work to develop a verification system for the production of grass beef in Australia that will support the current auditing system which is costly for processors to administer.

The approach is to use a type of spectroscopy called Raman to measure subcutaneous fat and relate this to the fatty acid profile.

The theory is that cattle fed grain based diets accumulate more saturated fatty acids and grass fed cattle more poly-unsaturated fatty acids and that Raman can detect these changes due to a change in carbon structure.

The intention is to provide an objective methodology to back up the auditing system so that any challenges to claims that beef were grass fed from export markets can be defended.

Progress has shown that carcasses from 150 grass fed cattle could be distinguished from 150 grass fed.

The next phase of the program is to measure more than 1,000 carcasses covering all the different finishing systems applied in Australia which includes grass fed cattle supplemented at pasture to demonstrate that indeed the approach is robust.

Other papers presented by the group included assessment of a probe from Iceland to measured fat depth in lamb carcasses, application of hypobaric chambers to the shipment of chilled lamb to overseas markets and the change in the fatty acid profile of grass fed beef under ageing.

The congress was spread over five days and Professor Hopkins, who chaired one of the sessions, was one of the judges for the International Meat Secretariat prize for the best young scientist paper and presentation and also participated in a board meeting of the International journal Meat Science given his role as Editor-in-Chief of the journal.