The science behind better beef and lamb
Mike North, Section Manager Agri-Foods & Health, testing the pH of ‘dark-cutting’ meat - just one of a raft of AgResearch projects to help grow New Zealand’s meat industry
New Zealand is world renowned for its sumptuous, tender lamb and beef. However, few people realise that it took a team of New Zealand scientists more than 50 years of dedicated research to find and apply practical processing and transport solutions to maximise and maintain the tenderness and freshness of New Zealand meat exported around the globe. Without this research, red meat - including lamb, beef and venison - would undoubtedly not be the more than $6 billion industry in New Zealand that it is today.
In 1955, red meat research in New Zealand began in earnest with the establishment of the Meat Industry Research Institute of New Zealand (MIRINZ). Its goal was to improve the quality of exported lamb and throughout the 1960s and 1970s, it made some important contributions. Since 1999 MIRINZ has been a part of AgResearch, and the meat scientists and microbiologists at AgResearch MIRINZ have continued to develop a series of cumulative improvements that are steadily enhancing the consistent quality of New Zealand’s red meat.
Research at MIRINZ and then AgResearch MIRINZ has helped the red meat industry to reach and access new, high value markets and improve its exported product in three main ways. First, scientists have developed and continue to find, new ways of extending the shelf-life of meat products. Second, research has developed technologies to ensure that the meat is safe to eat. Finally, advances have been made to consistently improve the tenderness, appearance and taste of meat.
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