• Variation in the quality of meat from Irish steers at the time of slaughter.

      Moloney, Aidan P; Mullen, Anne Maria; Maher, S.C.; Buckley, D.J.; Kerry, J.P. (Teagasc, 01/01/2004)
      There is no information on the variation in quality, in particular tenderness, that exists in Irish Beef nor is there information on the variation that would remain if optimum practices were imposed at all stages of the beef production chain. Evaluation of the success of measures to improve beef consistency requires information on existing variation and the minimum variation achievable.The objectives of this project were (i) to establish the variation that exists in the quality of meat from Irish cattle, (ii) to quantify the minimum variation in meat quality that can be achieved in a practical beef production system, (iii) to determine the effects and mechanisms of additional sources of variation. The conclusions from this project are: • The M. longissimus dorsi (loin) was found to be more variable than the M. semimembranosus (topside) for most quality attributes examined (tenderness, sarcomere length and pH). The scale of variation within the loin was similar to that reported by the other research groups within the EU and US. Heifers were more variable than steers for most attributes, while there was no consistent classification effect on the variability of meat quality attributes. • Tenderness was equally variable in meat from genetically similar steers, managed similarly, compared to commercial steers randomly selected from a factory lairage but matched for weight and grade.This was likely a result of both groups being crossbred beef cattle of similar age, fat score, carcass weight and managed identically post-mortem. However, variation in tenderness of both groups was less than that observed in a survey of commercial throughput (experiment 1). This decrease is attributed to better pre-and-post-slaughter handling practices. • The data suggest that selection of sires (within a breed) with better than average conformation has no deleterious effect on the eating quality of beef of their progeny.A more comprehensive comparison of sires within a breed and between breeds is required to confirm the generality of this conclusion. • In a comparison of genotypes, gender and slaughter weights, there was no evidence that variation around the mean value for tenderness differed between breeds or liveweights after 14 days ageing. Bulls were more variable than steers for some quality traits but the variation in tenderness was similar for bulls and steers after 14 days ageing. • While optimising the management of animals during the pre and post-slaughter period reduced variation in tenderness, some residual variation remained. A large percentage of the residual variation in tenderness (Warner Bratzler shear force) after 2 and 7 days post-mortem was explained by proteolysis (breakdown of myofibrillar proteins).Variation in tenderness (Warner Bratzler shear force) after 2 days post-mortem was largely explained by phosphates (energy) and proteolysis, while sensory tenderness was largely explained by phosphates and glycolytic potential. • Further work is required to reduce residual variation in Irish beef and to determine the causes of this variation.
    • Adding Value To Under utilised Fish Species

      Fagan, John; Gormley, Ronan T.; Mitchell, Michelle; Downey, Gerard (Teagasc, 01/02/2006)
      Tightening fish quotas and supply shortages for conventional species are causing major difficulties for both fishermen and seafood processors. There is a need, therefore, to explore the potential of underutilised fish species both as fillets or portions and as added-value products. The current project at Ashtown Food Research Centre (AFRC) addressed this issue for a number of underutilised species via (a) sous vide processing (with savoury sauces),(b)marinating (salt- and sugar-based marinades) and (c) via a combination of freeze-chilling and modified atmosphere packaging (MAP).A range of physico-chemical and sensory tests was conducted on the products and their shelf-life status was also determined.
    • A study on the use of chilling as a critical control point in a beef HACCP plan

      Kinsella, Kathleen; Sheridan, James J.; Rowe, T.; Downey, Gerard (Teagasc, 01/02/2006)
      Investigations were undertaken to establish the critical limits for use of chilling in a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system for beef. Information was obtained on the influence of chilling on the survival of bacteria, including the pathogen Salmonella Typhimurium DT104, attached to beef carcass surfaces. In general, a chilling regime could not be identified that gave consistent and meaningful reductions in surface bacterial counts while not seriously compromising the quality of the carcasses in terms of excessive amounts of weight loss. The study concluded that chilling was not a satisfactory process for use as a critical control point (CCP) in beef chilling and could not be recommended to the Irish beef industry for inclusion in a HACCP plan.
    • Surface decontamination of meat using thermal processes

      McCann, Máiréad S; Sheridan, James J.; Downey, Gerard (Teagasc, 01/02/2007)
      This study investigated the effectiveness of a novel heat apparatus for decontamination of meat surfaces inoculated with important foodborne pathogens using either steam or dry air.
    • Recovery and identification of emerging Campylobacteraceae from food

      Duffy, Geraldine; Cagney, Claire; Lynch, Orla; Downey, Gerard (Teagasc, 01/02/2007)
      The family Campylobacteraceae includes 23 different species of Campylobacter and Arcobacter.To date, clinical and epidemiological interest has focused almost exclusively on just two of these species, C. jejuni and C. coli. Current routine examination methods for both clinical and food samples look exclusively for these two species. Recent clinical research indicates that some of the other, previously ignored Campylobacter species may be linked to human infection. The focus of this research was to develop a routine procedure which would allow recovery of all 23 species of Campylobacteraceae from food samples.
    • The Development and/or Validation of Novel Intervention Technologies to Assure Meat Food Safety

      Bolton, Declan J.; Byrne, Brian; Lyng, James; Downey, Gerard; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Food Safety Authority of Ireland (Teagasc, 01/02/2007)
      This project was undertaken to fill some of the knowledge gaps in meat food safety from farm to fork. The data provide the scientific basis for a clean sheep policy to reduce the impact of fleece as a source of microbial contamination on ovine carcasses at the beginning of the slaughter process. At the other end of the slaughter-line, a polyurethane sponge swabbing technology was developed for ovine and bovine carcass sampling as required in 2001/471/EC and the new European Commission Hygiene Regulations. At the processing stages, studies were undertaken to determine the most effective media for the recovery and culture of Cl. perfringens cells and spores; the results were then applied to thermal inactivation studies on these bacteria. Thermal resistance data were also obtained for Bacillus cereus and a radio frequency cook for meat products was validated in terms of the destruction of Cl. perfringens and B. cereus cells and spores. Finally, an aerobiology study investigated the effectiveness of a range on measures to prevent air acting as a vector for bacterial dispersion in a meat processing plant.
    • A Risk Assessment and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Study for the Irish Catering Industry

      Bolton, Declan J.; Meally, Aisling; Downey, Gerard; Safefood (Teagasc, 01/02/2007)
      This report provides details of a food safety knowledge survey, a microbiological survey, a chilled temperature survey and an audit conducted in 200 restaurants throughout the island of Ireland. The results suggest a low incidence of several bacterial pathogens (including Salmonella enterica) and identify areas in which food safety knowledge, procedures and practices should be improved. Salmonella enterica isolates were characterised and the results suggested distinct pockets of different serotypes. Growth curves for L. monocytogenes isolates suggest considerably reduced shelf-life for a variety of foods. For example, lettuce should not be stored at room temperature or the shelf-life is reduced from 6.5 days (chilled storage) to 3.3 days.The predicted shelf-life for fresh milk was 4.5 days (chilled storage). Chlorine (sodium hypochlorite, 5 ppm), 1-monolauroyl-rac-glycerol and a laurate ester (ester-glucoside laurate) were also tested for application as vegetable decontaminating agents in restaurant kitchens. The report concludes with recommendations for improved food safety and hygiene in Irish restaurants.
    • Overview of Seafood Research at Ashtown Food Research Centre (1990 - 2007)

      Gormley, Ronan T.; Downey, Gerard (Teagasc, 01/02/2008)
      In recent years, the Irish seafood industry has faced stringent quotas and dwindling fish stocks. The introduction of fish farming added a new dimension but falling prices also created difficulties for this sector. However, the recent report of the Seafood Industry Strategy Group on ‘Steering a New Course’ and the Sea Change Programme of the Marine Institute will add new impetus to the industry. The current report summarises R&D on seafood conducted at Ashtown Food Research Centre (AFRC) in the period 1990-2007 and represents a major portion of seafood R&D conducted nationally during that period.
    • Near Infrared Spectroscopy in the Food Industry: A Tool of Quality Management.

      Downey, Gerard (Teagasc, 01/03/1999)
      Near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy is a rapid, non-destructive analytical technique which has been used in the food and agriculture industries for almost 20 years. Ireland was one of the first countries in the world to adopt this method for national trading purposes and the grain trade has used it for off-farm and in-process analysis since 1981. However, other sectors have been slower to realise its potential and as part of a process of demonstrating the role which it may play in monitoring quality in a range of food industry applications, a programme of research and development has been on-going within Teagasc and its predecessor An Foras Talúntais. NIR spectroscopy provides the food processor with information. This information may describe how much of a given substance is present in a mixture or how the overall quality of the substance compares to a reference material e.g. a previous batch of raw material, finished goods or a competitor’s product. This report provides some examples of precompetitive R&D on representative qualitative and quantitative problems in a range of foods and food ingredients. The use of NIR spectra collected within 24 hours of slaughter to predict beef tenderness 14 days later shows considerable promise. Non-destructive monitoring of flesh composition in farmed salmon has paved the way for the efficient use of expensive feed materials while the content of each species in binary mixtures of minced beef and lamb has been accurate enough to suggest the use of NIR spectroscopy as a rapid screening tool by regulatory agencies, food processors and retailers. Classification of a range of food ingredients (including skim milk powder and flour) into one of a number of functionally-discrete categories has been successfully achieved with levels of accuracy high enough to warrant immediate industry utilisation i.e. greater than 90% for skim milk powders and 97% in the case of flour. Species confirmation in a number of raw minced meats (chicken, turkey, pork, beef and lamb) has been achieved with over 90% accuracy in feasibility studies. Calibrations transferred from one NIR instrument to another lose accuracy because of differences in instrument construction, sample presentation and other factors. A research effort has recently been applied to this problem of transferability and results are available for both scanning and fixed filter instruments. The success achieved opens the way for using NIR results obtained in different companies or countries as an uncontested basis for trade.
    • Model System for the Production of Enzyme Modified Cheese (EMC) Flavours.

      Kilcawley, Kieran N; Beresford, Tom; Lee, B.; Wilkinson, M.G.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Dairy Levy Trust (Teagasc, 01/04/2002)
      Natural cheese flavour ingredients, in the form of enzyme modified cheeses (EMCs), are widely used in the convenience food industry and can provide high volume added opportunities for the cheese industry. Many EMCs are produced using commercial enzyme preparations and previous studies have indicated that they contain side activities in addition to their stated main activity (see DPRC Report No.10). Therefore, it is critical that the exact enzyme complement of these preparations are known before they can be used to produce EMC of specific requirements on a consistent basis. The scientific basis of rapid enzyme mediated flavour formation in the production of EMCs is not fully understood. Consequently this knowledge gap is a major obstacle in the development of high value cheese flavour ingredients. Hence, a major objective of this project was to deepen the scientific understanding of flavour formation with a view to the production of natural enzyme-mediated dairy flavour ingredients with commercial potential. The ultimate aim was to develop the technology to produce customised high value dairy flavour ingredients in an optimised process.
    • Developing Sous Vide/Freezing Systems for Ready-Meal omponents

      Tansey, Fergal; Gormley, Ronan T.; Carbonell, Serge; Oliveira, Jorge; Bourke, Paula; O’Beirne, David (Teagasc, 01/04/2005)
      Sous vide cooking involves sealing raw or par-cooked food in a vacuumised laminated plastic pouch or container, cooking by controlled heating, rapid chilling and then re-heating for consumption. The chilled storage period is up to 21 days at 0 to 3oC. The recommended thermal process for sous vide products is 90oC for 10min or its time-temperature equivalent. Concerns about the safety of sous vide products, mainly due to the potential for temperature abuse in the chill chain, has prevented the widespread use of this technology. The role of the current project, therefore, was to investigate sous vide cooking followed by freezing, as a safe alternative to sous vide/chilling for 10 ready-meal components i.e. carbohydrates (potatoes, pasta, rice), vegetables (carrots, broccoli) and muscle foods (salmon, cod, chicken, beef and lamb).
    • Food Authentication using Infrared Spectroscopic Methods

      Downey, Gerard; Kelly, J. Daniel (Teagasc, 01/06/2006)
      Confirmation of the authenticity of a food or food ingredient is an increasing challenge for food processors and regulatory authorities. This is especially the case when an added-value claim, such as one relating to geographic origin or a particular processing history, is made on the food label. Regulatory agencies are concerned with the prevention of economic fraud while the food processor needs confirmation of such claims in order to protect a brand, the image of which could be severely damaged should an adulterated ingredient make its way into the branded food product.To be of greatest value, any analytical tool deployed to confirm authenticity claims needs to be portable, easy to use, non-destructive and accurate. Infrared spectroscopy, near and mid-infrared, is a tool which has been demonstrated to possess these properties in a wide range of situations.While some applications in food authenticity have been reported, the work undertaken in this project was designed to explore their capabilities regarding a number of products and authenticity issues of particular interest to the Irish agri-food industry i.e. olive oil, honey, soft fruit purées and apple juice.
    • Second Generation GM Foods: Perspectives on Likely Future Acceptance by Irish Consumers

      O'Connor, Elaine; Cowan, Cathal; Williams, Gwilym; O'Connell, John; Boland, Maurice; Downey, Gerard (Teagasc, 01/07/2005)
      Two hypothetical second-generation genetically-modified (GM) products, a yogurt and a dairy spread, were evaluated by consumers. Second-generation GM food products offer specific consumer benefits - in the case of this study, health benefits.
    • Development of Organic Breads and Confectionery

      Gallagher, Eimear; Keehan, Denise; Butler, Francis; Downey, Gerard (Teagasc, 01/07/2005)
      In recent years, concern for the environment and consumer dissatisfaction with conventional food has led to growing interest in organic farming and food. The demand has also been fuelled by highly-publicised food scares. Food safety and genetic modification issues have led some consumers to opt for organic food as a safer alternative. Recently, there has been a significant increase in the number of launches of organic bakery products in Ireland. As a result, there is an increased need to identify suitable organic bakery ingredients for use in bread and confectionery formulations. However, only a limited number of scientific studies on the physical, chemical and functional properties of organic flours and ingredients exist. The effects of commonly-used ingredients in baking, i.e. organic improvers and fats, on the baking characteristics of organic products have not yet been reported and little is known about the influence of approved additives that may be beneficial to organic baking. Arising from these gaps in the knowledge base on the use of organic flours and ingredients, the objective of this study was to evaluate the chemical, rheological and baking characteristics of white, wholemeal and confectionery organic flours and to assess the baking potential of organic bakery ingredients, in particular improvers, fats and additives. Ingredients and baked goods were compared to non-organic controls.
    • Nitrofurans: Measuring Tissue-Bound Residues in Meat

      O’Keeffe, Michael; Conneely, Anne; Nugent, Audrey; Downey, Gerard (Teagasc, 01/08/2006)
      The aims of this project were to (a) develop a range of screening and confirmatory test methods that might be applied to effectively test for the illicit use of the prohibited nitrofuran antimicrobials,(b) study the persistence of nitrofuran antimicrobials as bound metabolite residues inedible tissues and (c) undertake a pan-European survey of the incidence of nitrofurans in retail pork.
    • Adding value to cull cow beef

      O'Donovan, Michael; Minchin, William; Buckley, Frank; Kenny, David; Shalloo, Laurence (Teagasc, 01/08/2009)
      This project addressed the prospects of increasing the value of cull cow beef and examined the potential of a number of different management and dietary strategies. In Ireland, the national cow herd contributes 350,000 animals to total beef production annually, which represents 22% of all cattle slaughtered (DAF, 2007). A dominant feature of beef production in Ireland is the disposal of cows from the dairy and beef industries, the time of year at which culling occurs influences the number of cows available for slaughter. Suitability of a cow for slaughter is generally not a consideration for dairy or beef farmers.
    • Enzyme Modified Cheese Flavour Ingredients

      Wilkinson, M.; Kilcawley, Kieran N; Mulholland, E.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Teagasc, 01/09/2000)
      Enzyme-modified cheeses (EMCs) are defined as concentrated cheese flavours produced enzymatically from cheeses of various ages and are principally used as an ingredient in processed foods, where they provide a cost-effective alternative to natural cheese. They can be used as the sole source of cheese flavour to intensify an existing cheese taste, or to impart a specific cheese character to a more bland product. Their main applications are in processed cheese, analogue cheese, cheese spreads, snack foods, soups, sauces, biscuits, dips and pet foods. Their main advantages over other cheese flavour ingredients are: low production costs, consistency, high flavour intensity, diverse flavour range, extended shelf- life, low storage costs and increased functionality. EMCs are generated utilising the same flavour pathways that occur in natural cheese ripening i.e. proteolysis, lipolysis and glycolysis. They are not as easy to differentiate as natural cheeses, as they are characterised by flavour and aroma alone as texture is not a factor in EMC production. The relationship of the flavour of EMCs to the flavour of the corresponding natural cheese remains unclear. This is especially true for Cheddar EMC which is commercially available in a range of Cheddar flavours . Despite the fact that a wide range of commercial EMCs are available, there is very little detailed information available regarding their properties or the specific production processes used. The main objective of this research was to build a knowledge base on EMC products and to utilise this to develop a biotechnological process for the production of improved enzyme modified cheeses for use as flavour ingredients. The strategy was to establish quantitative relationships between the compositional, proteolytic and lipolytic parameters and the sensory characteristics of EMCs. This data would then be used to develop a predictive model for flavour development in EMC production and the subsequent generation of an optimised EMC process enabling the generation of a range of cheese flavours from single or multiple substrates.
    • Control of Blown Pack Spoilage in Vacuum Packaged Meat

      Bolton, Declan J.; Moschonas, Galatios; Sheridan, James J.; Downey, Gerard; National Development Plan (Teagasc, 01/10/2009)
      Blown pack spoilage (BPS) represents a significant commercial loss to Irish meat processors. This research discovered that the organisms causing BPS are ubiquitous in the abattoir environment, making eradication very difficult. The risk of BPS is best managed through a process of regular treatment of plant and equipment with a sporicidal agent such as peroxyacetic acid, good hygiene to minimise carcass contamination and removal of the heat shrinkage stage during vacuum packaging as this activates the spores and reduces the time to spoilage.
    • Tracking of Salmonella through the Pork Slaughter Process

      Prendergast, Deirdre M.; Duggan, Sharon J.; Duffy, Geraldine; Downey, Gerard; Safefood (Teagasc, 01/10/2009)
      To help address the problem of salmonellosis in the Republic of Ireland (RoI), a national Salmonella control programme was introduced in 1997 with a view to reducing the prevalence of Salmonella in pigs on the farm and on pig carcasses. The primary objective of this present study was to determine the correlation between the Salmonella serological and bacteriological status of pigs presented for slaughter and the Salmonella status of pork cuts following slaughter, dressing and chilling. Two additional studies investigated the prevalence and numbers of Salmonella spp. in the boning halls of four commercial pork abattoirs and at retail level in butcher shops and supermarkets in the RoI. The results indicated that categorisation of pig herds on the basis of a historical serological test for Salmonella was not a good predictor of the bacteriological Salmonella status of individual pigs at time of slaughter. However, it is acknowledged that serological testing does help in giving a rough estimate of the overall Salmonella status of a pig herd. There was a linear correlation between prevalence of Salmonella in caecal contents and on pork cuts at factory level; therefore, if the number of herds presented for slaughter with high levels of Salmonella (category 3) was reduced, there would be less potential for contamination of the lairage, equipment etc. and so less likelihood of Salmonella contamination on pork. The impact of crosscontamination during transport, lairage, processing and distribution cannot be ignored and measures to diminish this would significantly reduce the dissemination of Salmonella in the chain and the consequent risk posed. A key finding was the considerable variation in the incidence of Salmonella on different sampling days and in different slaughter plants.
    • Indicator organisms to determine the use of chilling as a critical point in beef slaughter HACCP

      Prendergast, Deirdre M.; Sheridan, James J.; Downey, Gerard (Teagasc, 01/11/2008)
      During chilling, temperatures of carcass surfaces at different sites change over time as do other parameters such as water activity (aw), the structure of the muscle and other tissues, as the carcass enters rigor mortis. Many of these factors are known to have a major effect on cell survival and growth and must be considered in determining the influence of chilling on bacterial survival on carcass surfaces. This study aimed to determine if chilling could be used as a critical control point (CCP) in beef slaughter in relation to pathogens such as E. coli O157:H7 and L. monocytogenes, using E. coli and Listeria innocua as pathogen indicators. The present study was designed to determine the influence of (a) chilling at 10oC for 72 h on the survival of E. coli and (b) chilling at 4oC for 72 h on the survival of L. innocua inoculated at different sites on beef carcasses. Three sites (neck, outside round and brisket) were inoculated (1) immediately after dressing while hot (E. coli and L. innocua) and (2) when cold after chilling (L. innocua). The influence of changes in surface aw was also considered and their relationship to the survival of E. coli and L. innocua over time was assessed. The data are discussed in relation to the use of chilling as a CCP in beef hazard analysis (HACCP) and the monitoring of neck temperature as the most suitable CCP.