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ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Meat Safety and Quality » Research » Research Project #442301

Research Project: Approaches for Improving and Measuring Red Meat Quality and Composition

Location: Meat Safety and Quality

Project Number: 3040-31430-007-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Jul 5, 2022
End Date: Jul 4, 2027

Objective 1: Develop strategies to characterize, manage, measure, predict, and reduce variation in meat quality, composition, and healthfulness traits. Sub Objective 1A: Utilize metabolomics, proteomics and other biochemical tools to understand and improve the biological variation in meat quality, composition, and healthfulness traits. Sub Objective 1B: Develop genomic and practical meat management strategies to improve meat quality, composition, and healthfulness. Objective 2: Develop and validate methods and technologies for measuring and predicting meat quality, composition, and healthfulness traits. Sub Objective 2A: Improve the accuracy of meat tenderness measurement. Sub Objective 2B: Develop new and improved technologies for predicting meat quality, healthfulness, and composition traits.

The inconsistency of product quality and composition has a negative impact on consumer demand for meat. These product characteristics are difficult to measure and can be impacted by genetics and management as well as processing variables. Progress is further impeded by lack of understanding of the biological mechanisms controlling variation in important traits. Producers and processors need better technologies to improve genetic selection and technologies to measure or predict quality and composition characteristics to more accurately determine value and send appropriate signals to other segments of the production chain. Processors also need a better understanding of the interaction between postmortem processing procedures and biochemical changes affecting meat quality traits. This project will develop approaches to improve quality and healthfulness while reducing the variation in meat products. This will be accomplished by providing the information and tools necessary to facilitate equitable valuation of carcasses and meat, improve the quality and consistency of meat, and optimize carcass and meat composition. This project addresses consistency of quality, composition, and healthfulness of red meat products by developing strategies and instrumentation to manage and improve these traits using basic and applied research. Genetic and genomic strategies will be combined with animal and meat management strategies to optimize quality and composition traits. Research will include metabolomics, proteomics and other biochemical tools to characterize variation in quality and composition as well as to evaluate and facilitate implementation of instrumentation for measuring or predicting value determining traits such as carcass grades, tenderness, flavor, lean color stability, and fat quality. Outcomes from this research will provide livestock producers, meat processors and USDA-Agricultural Marketing Service with information and technologies to ensure food animal production systems meet current and future needs for consistent, high quality and healthy meat products for diverse consumers while ensuring economic and environmental sustainability and animal well-being.