New Agricultural Research Service food processing and testing facilities in Beltsville, Md. will make it easier to evaluate the safety and quality of meat products.

The new sensory testing facility at the ARS Food Technology and Safety Laboratory houses 10 testing booths. Each one includes a computer so trained panelists can offer quick and efficient feedback to researchers. Food technologist Martha Neale Liu has overseen the remodeling of the new facility.

Researchers are evaluating hydrodynamic pressure processing and other pressure processing methods to tenderize and reduce the amount of pathogenic and spoilage microbes on whole muscle meats and processed meats, such as hams and sausages. HDP has been shown to be successful in tenderizing whole muscle meat, but its effectiveness in processed meat products is unknown.

New studies are underway to evaluate pressure technologies in the role of improving the quality and shelf-life of meat products. Use of the new equipment and sensory testing facilities will assist the scientists in determining the value-added capabilities of these technologies.

For more information, go to: http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2004/041216.htm