Home' Australasian BioTechnology : Vol 26 No 2 Contents Australasian BioTechnology | Volume 26 | Number 2
system, such as MSA, has delivered the goods. The proof of it
all has recently been summarised in an audit of red meat quality
right across Australia. We have come a long way, indeed.
How has mechanisation and automation affected meat
tenderness over the last 20 years?
There is no question that automation has also contributed
to the delivery of better-quality red meat, as more accurate
cutting lines facilitate great control around chilling and
ageing, for example.
Have biosensor technologies played a role?
Biosensors have not really taken us far in this area. They
were an attractive concept, but have played no role. Back
in 1995, I imagined greater cost reductions in biochemical
testings: I didn't imagine that gene sequencing costs would
shrink so radically.
Are blood-based gene tests for tenderness now in use?
Likewise, blood-based gene tests for tenderness were
commercialised for a number of years in the early 2000s
by organisations such as Genetic Solutions and Pfizer, but
ultimately, that technology was rendered obsolete by the
whole-genome sequencing and the multi-gene marker
technologies, such as gene panels.
Has research into muscular dystrophy using the MDX mouse
shed any light on genetic/biological markers for meat
It has been valuable to look at aspects of genetic
polymorphism, such as what you see in muscular dystrophy
of the MDX mouse. In the early 2000s, a lot of work was done
around the callipyge breed of sheep and the Belgian blue
breed of cow as opportunities to increase the efficiency of
growth by genetic or exogenous means. The impact of these
discoveries in the Australian market or global context has
been minor. Likewise, these gene and regulatory networks
could have been the target of gene editing, but we are yet to
see such applications. Perhaps callipyge-derived muscle cells
are the best ones to use for in-vitro meat production.
In pursuit of meat tenderness, has the addition of enzymes to
meat been successfully implemented?
In pursuit of tenderness, again I think that understanding
the enzymes that were involved in the meat tenderisation
after slaughter generated some value in terms of our stock
of knowledge, but larger strides were made from good old-
fashioned control and optimisation of individual steps in the
growth, development, slaughter, and post-slaughter arena.
What role has biotechnology played in regards to the
classifcation of meat at the marketing stage of meat
Biotechnology has played no role in the classification
of meat at the marketing stage. It has, to some extent,
underpinned the perceived value of Angus, and when we
look around the marketplace for meat at the moment, we
know about the brands like Angus. Generic animal breed
names like Wagyu have had incredible impact in the fast-
food market and also the gourmet meat market. All of that
has been underpinned by technologies around selection and
identification, which we could regard as biotechnologies,
but reduced to the simplest of practices in selection and
optimisation of meat quality.
Has community acceptance of such technologies improved
since the ‘90s?
I think that consumer acceptance has taken quite a dive,
even though we have some marvellous technologies
available to us, such as trans-genetic or gene edited--type
technologies for achievement of disease resistance in
animals, or even feed efficiency--type traits. I think that
consumer acceptance of animals that are in any way
modified remains low. So, I think the biggest impact of the
biotechnologies is going to be in the breeding and selection
How has labelling legislation responded to meat science
developments over the last 20 years?
The MSA system has given us spectacularly improved quality,
and I think 'trace back'---the capacity for individuals and
brands to trace problems in the meat supplier all the way from
an Asian consumer back to a farm, or an individual feedlot---
has certainly developed over the last 20 years, as have other
aspects of animal production, such as animal welfare, and the
verification of breed type or country of origin.
As a result, these now underpin truly enormous diversification
of animal production in Australia and have also underpinned
the Australian red meat breeding market specifications
around the world. The markets have grown enormously in this
time, in both sophistication and in volume.
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