State -- Consumers are concerned with meat quality at the point of purchase and until use, but those bringing the meat to market must manage numerous factors before it reaches the customer.
“My research is on improving meat quality through pre-harvest intervention,” said Ty Schmidt, a researcher with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. “This includes animal management, nutrition, nutritional manipulation, health, animal welfare and stress physiology. Each of these factors impacts meat quality and food safety.”
Schmidt came to Mississippi State University's Animal and Dairy Science Department in March as an assistant professor of muscle biology and physiology.
“I believe factors influencing meat quality begin at the producer's decision to breed a specific sire and dam. From this point forward, everything will influence meat quality, including the environment, nutrition, management practices and more,” he said.
A primary focus of Schmidt's research is understanding the impact animal health can have on meat quality, specifically the impact of bovine respiratory disease on meat quality. This is the most devastating disease to the beef cattle industry and accounts for more than 75 percent of deaths, of which 50 percent are reported in the United States.
“There is very limited data that describes the impact this disease has on meat quality, and specifically meat tenderness,” Schmidt said.
He began researching this topic while working on his master's degree in meat science at West Texas A&M University. He continued his research at the University of Missouri, where he earned a doctorate in muscle biology and meat science. Two post-doctoral positions at the University of Missouri continued this work.
“The two areas of interest to meat science are the impact of pre-harvest factors on meat quality and understanding consumers' perception of meat quality,” Schmidt said. “As a meat scientist, before I can tackle any pre-harvest meat quality issues, I must understand what ‘quality' is to the consumer.”
In addition to his research, Schmidt is teaching four undergraduate classes in various aspects of meat science.
“I have plans to design a graduate muscle biochemistry class, and along with Jason Behrends in the Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion department, plan to re-establish the collegiate meats judging program at MSU,” Schmidt said. His goals for MSU are lofty.
“I was attracted to MSU mainly because of the emphasis the university has placed on the development of its muscle foods program. I want to develop a nationally and internationally recognized research program that also will benefit the animal livestock producers of Mississippi,” he said.
Schmidt and his wife Amy are from Columbia, Mo. They live in Starkville with their son James.