Fresno State Meat Science Program has been a major part of the Department of Animal Sciences and Agricultural Education at Fresno State for well over 40 years offering students the opportunity to not only learn about the meat industry, but also gain hands-on experience at the University Meats Laboratory.
Early on, the Meats Laboratory focused on slaughter, fresh meat cuts, and fresh and smoked sausages; however, when Dr. John Henson was hired over 15 years ago he added a new dimension to the program. With his experience in salumi production, the Fresno State Meats Laboratory started producing several varieties of dry-cured salami. This past December Fresno State (Dr. Henson & Dr. McKeith) hosted Salumi 101 with AMSA and North Carolina State University (Dr. Dana Hanson).
Fresno State offers a Meat Technologies emphasis within the Animal Science degree for undergraduates as well as a Master of Science degree program. There are 6 meats-focused courses including Meat Animal Evaluation, Introduction to Meat Science, Advanced Meat Science, Meat Technology, Agriculture Food Safety Systems, and Muscle Biology. Undergraduate students can compete on the Meat Judging Team and work in the Meats Laboratory.
Students also have the opportunity to get involved in research as well as development of new products. Dr. John Henson and Dr. Amanda McKeith’s recent research projects involve investigating temperatures lower than 130°F to cook roast beef and the effects of protein, lysine, and fiber on swine growth and pork quality. The students are constantly exposed to industry leaders as well as hands-on experiences that many do not have the opportunity to enjoy. The Meats Laboratory is 100% student run; therefore, students produce all products and they get the hands-on training in developing HACCP plans and interacting with USDA officials.
The Fresno State Meats Science Club is a student run organization of not only students who are meat technology options, but also students who were a part of the meat judging team or have an interest or love for meat products. Who doesn’t love bacon? The club with the help of the Meat Judging Team holds an annual ham and steak sale just prior to Thanksgiving and Christmas. The club also caters for a few events throughout the year including the Red Wave Classic Jackpot where one can’t pass up a chorizo breakfast burrito and a smoked tri-tip sandwich. The club also helps the community through the university’s Helping Hams project just before Thanksgiving and Christmas and scoring trap shooting competitions.
Each May the Fresno State Meat Science Program holds a Meats Industry Appreciation dinner to thank the industry and community for their support throughout the year. The club members are responsible for every aspect of the event from set-up, decorations, silent and live auction items, and most importantly a steak dinner. Students in the Meat Technology course make the appetizers for the events, which are products they develop for a specific meat company. Each year the appetizers change, as the students must develop them to meet the sponsors needs that year. We have been fortunate enough to have sponsors not only from near-by meat companies, but also meat companies around the country. The money raised from this event allows students to travel to the AMSA’s Reciprocal Meat Conference, California Association of Meat Processors Convention, and industry tours.
Fresno State is a member of the American Meat Science Association. For more information about Fresno State and its faculty, please visit the AMSA website at http://www.meatscience.org/students/graduate-programs.