AFS's Miller part of global team studying genetic properties of quality beef
By: Allen Ramsey
Why are consumers willing to pay high prices for steaks? A research project from Texas Tech's Department of Animal & Food Sciences, in collaboration with groups in Ireland and Australia, is trying to answer that question.
The project started with a simple idea from a doctoral candidate, who wanted to know why consumers would pay $75 for a steak when much cheaper options were available. It has evolved into L GEN 2000, a collaborative genomics project funded by a $603,960 grant from the University of New England that seeks to relate the genetic differences in the culinary quality of various beef cattle.
The L GEN 2000 project will collect data from consumers across three countries with different methods of raising beef cattle, compile that data and try to isolate the genes that give consumers the best dining experience, said Mark Miller, a professor and the San Antonio Livestock Show Distinguished Chair in Meat Science
In the United States, consumers in the test project will eat steaks from 100 percent grain-fed beef. The beef produced for the tests in Ireland will be 100 percent grass-fed and the beef in Australia will be a mixture of the two, with the goal being to find out if the different methods of raising beef cattle produce different genetics.
This genomics project will look at beef in different production systems and relate it to the genome of the beef animal, Miller said. “It may be that we have the same genetics everywhere and there's no genetic difference, but we need to know,” he said.
“Understanding the differences, or lack of differences, allows us to know how to manage feeding and production,” he said. “It will help us maximize the quality and healthfulness of beef in relation to all outputs like methane, carbon and water use.”
Miller's experience in the meat industry has made him a leader in the areas of food safety and meat quality research. Specifically, he's been actively involved in research with collaborators at the USDA, Cargill, Tyson, Merck, Nebraska Beef, and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
He has served as investigator or co-investigator projects totaling more than $22 million; resulting in numerous referred journal articles, books and book chapters. Miller received his bachelor's and master's degrees in animal science from Texas Tech. His doctorate in meat science is from Texas A&M University.
CONTACT: Chance Brooks, Interim Chair and Professor, Department of Animal & Food Sciences, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2808 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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