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Dr. Phil Bass of Certified Angus Beef sits down with The National Provisioner’s Andy Hanacek to discuss educational opportunities within the food science community and to talk about a bigger trend with AMSA.

Andy Hanacek: We are here today with Dr. Phil Bass of Certified Angus Beef, good friend of The National Provisioner and on the editorial board as well. I appreciate you taking a couple minutes here to talk to me about some of the things going on. We are here at the Reciprocal Meats Conference for AMSA, I wanted first to ask you about some of the educational opportunities you have going on for Certified Angus Beef. Tell me about some of those things.

Phil Bass: We have a lot of groups coming in right now. Some that will be continuing their education. We have some projects where we bring in foodservice distributor representatives, take them out to farms and ranches, bring them back to our culinary center and walk them through meat carcasses and meat identification to help better their understanding of meat science and meat cuts and to build their confidence as sales representatives and meat consultant for their customers. Not just that but also smaller events. We bring in distributors around the world. We just had a group in from the Middle East recently. We’ll be bringing in chef groups throughout the summer to allow them to get their hands into the product, to get out of their usual environment so they can expand their minds to learn, to grow and to develop new products possibly. I’ve been doing a lot of research trying to add to the volume of information that we have right now as far as our specifications to continue to substantiate the claims made by Certified Angus Beef and the specifications that we have. We are a science-based organization. We have to continually keep up on the information that is out there.

Hanacek: So the opportunities you have, would you say that frequency and popularity of them has risen since we last talked.

Bass: Yes.

Hanacek: So you are seeing many more groups of people coming in?

Bass: I guess you could say we’ve got job security. We’re very, very busy all the time. The chefs at the culinary center and I are continually having new groups come in. We don’t have a lot of downtime right now, which is great. I love sharing the information that we’re able to gather and distribute throughout the meat community.

Hanacek: So we are here at RMC. We are about halfway through the program [at the time of filming], up to now, are there any seminars or tidbits of information that stood out to you that you have seen or heard that make you think ‘Wow, I didn’t realize that.’ You don’t’ have to necessarily endorse anybody but anything that you heard that you were surprised to hear.

Bass: I like the way you said ‘surprised to hear’ and it’s not a total surprise but in the past, the Reciprocal Meat Conference has been very academic based, which is great. We’re a bunch of scientist. That’s what we like to discuss… research and studies we have conducted, and share that information. But progressively the American Meat Science Association has begun to look beyond just the academic approach to share information with the world. That’s been the big theme around the Reciprocal Meat Conference this year. How do we share this information? How do we dissipate it to the general public to help folks who may not be experts in the food community to help them understand better what it is that we do, why we do it and to show we’re the good guys? We’re here to help. We’re just trying to grow a lot of food, a lot of meat, high quality food for everyone. There have been a number of really great discussions that I’ve attended through the short week we have here. The opening session we had with Kelly McDonald, a marketing consultant… she had some really nice points to help spread the message to folks who may not necessarily understand the animal community like we do. That message continues throughout most of the discussions I’ve attended. I’ve had some great visits with folks who work in the media to help us understand how to communicate with folks outside of the animal science community. It’s been a really great progressive movement that we are starting to see with the American Meat Science Association. We’ve always tried to be a resource for everyone. We’re just getting better at doing it now, and that has been the theme for the week.

Hanacek: Do you think that your meat science colleagues… you know they have the stereotype of being bookworm-ish, science guys, not necessarily extraverted media guys. There’s some like you who are comfortable in front of a camera doing videos like this. Do you think the industry has come a long way or do you think it has a long way to go to get some of these meat scientists out of their shells?

Bass: I think we’re making a lot of really good progress. We do have a lot of what we call the basic scientist. Folks that are right down in the laboratory environment trying to better understand how nature works. It is important to get those folks out to share the information they have, but some of the really neat movements we’ve seen recently in the American Meat Science Association is the influx of the student population coming to these meetings. A lot of these folks might not be going into hardcore research later on in life, but they are going to be great voices for the animal science community. Through many of the great educational opportunities they get to work with as well as judging events and public speaking events… all of this is helping their ability to communicate with the broader audience. This is a really neat time to be a part of the animal science community and a really great place to be right now along with these brilliant minds and active participants in the animal science community.

Hanacek: Phil, thanks for your time and have a great rest of the conference.