It's been two years in the making, but a new USDA food processing and testing facility has opened in Beltsville, Md.

The new sensory testing operation at the Agricultural Research Service Food Technology and Safety Laboratory will let scientists look for ways to tenderize whole muscle meats, as well as processed meats such as hams and sausages, says a report from The tests will be conducted through techniques such as hydrodynamic pressure processing.

Scientists also will research methods to reduce the amount of pathogenic and spoilage microbes on such products. Studies are underway to evaluate pressure technologies to improve meat products' quality and shelf life. The new facility will help scientists determine the value-added capabilities of various technologies.