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BEEF CHECKOFF RESEARCH PROGRAMS PREPARE FOR 2009

Centennial, Colo. – It may not be found on the first page (or even in the footnote) of a beef history book, but it's there. Behind new beef cuts, new products for consumers, nutrition and youth education, is checkoff-funded research.

The process of deciding which research to fund and when has always been in the hands of producer committees. Before their work can begin, however, it is important to hear from all segments of the industry to review what is needed, what work is already underway and where checkoff dollars can best achieve desired results.

“Behind the scenes, the checkoff-funded planning process brings together representatives from all points in the beef supply chain to review the needs of their sectors,” says Keith Hansen, chair of the Joint Research & Knowledge Management Group. “After we've heard from producers, processors, grocers and restaurant owners and international marketers, joint checkoff committees evaluate the results to decide what producers believe they should implement in 2009.”

At the safety meeting, for example, the group considered research looking at interventions – steps taken to reduce contamination – before, during and after animal harvest and processing. In addition, the group heard about emerging microorganisms that could infect beef, and a need for better understanding of pathogens associated with beef.

“The safety research program has validated a number of intervention technologies now used in processing facilities, as well as some pre-harvest interventions now in the approval process,” says Duane Theuninck, chair of the Joint Industry Beef Safety Committee. “We cannot afford to compromise the safety of our product. Checkoff-funded safety research is an important way for us to maintain and enhance beef safety and ensure consumer confidence.”

At the product enhancement meeting, a number of subjects were considered, including: genomics and feeding to producer better product quality; palatability (tenderness, flavor and juiciness) and consumer acceptance; instrument grading to assure consistent products, universal product naming, alternate cutting methods, chilling and aging; and knowledge dissemination.

“Some of the goals of the product enhancement program are to study beef quality, muscle traits and characterization, carcass trait genomics, muscle tenderness and yield, flavor and palatability, and new technologies,” says Glen Dolezal, chair of the Joint Industry Product Enhancement Committee. “Ultimately, producers can rest assured that their checkoff dollars are working through programs such as these to improve beef quality and consistency and drive demand – or simply stated – ensuring long-range industry success.”

The market research and human nutrition research programs will conduct similar exercises soon to provide direction for planning the 2009 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, 2008.

No, there won't be a quiz, but do take mental notes. Tactics implemented as a result of research planning are just addendums to the history book of beef.

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