​​​T​he Meat Biochemistry and Physiology Section specialises in histological, physiological, and proteomics methodologies to support and explain phenotypic measurements such as meat colour, tenderness and juiciness as well as other meat quality attributes. Our projects focus on integrated pathways where pre-slaughter, slaughter and post-slaughter practices are studied and manipulated to increase yield and quality of beef, sheep meat and pork.  These practices include animal nutrition, genetics, growth enhancement (growth promoters), carcass chilling and electrical stimulation, muscle profiling, packaging and post-mortem aging.  Our broad scientific biological knowledge ensures collaboration between intra ARC campuses such as ARC-BTP​ (genomics), and intra ARC-AP Units (Animal Breeding and Genetics, Nutrition, Range and Forage, Small Stock, Qualitative & Quantitative Analyses, Trai​ning, etc.). 

We specialise in:

  • Biological meat tenderness mechanisms

  • Energy status of muscle at slaughter to identify and study PSE and DFD phenomena

  • Meat colour and shelf life studies

  • Fat profile and marbling in meat

  • Meat fat and protein oxidation.

We have highly qualified research personnel, and modern equipped research laboratories.  Our flagships are:

  • Histology laboratory has a fully equipped Video Image Analyses System for studying meat structure histology such as sarcomere lengths, myofibrillar fragmentation, meat fibre breaks, fibre typing and fibre areas, and any other meat quality related measurement such as marbling, water holding capacity and muscle areas.

  • The Biochemistry laboratory has a computerised low pressure liquid chromatography system and other related equipment such as centrifuges, spectrophotometers, etc. in order to study enzyme mechanisms and connective tissue characteristics involved in meat tenderness and meat colour.

  • The Proteomics laboratory is fully equipped with isoelectrofocusing, electrophoresis and imaging equipment in order to handle single and 2 dimensional gel electrophoresis and Western blotting and software to analyse protein patterns in order to study proteins involved in above mentioned study areas.

  • To study meat colour and related measurements we have a Portable Minolta CM-600d colour measuring spectrophotometer.

  • ​Most of the projects we do are in collaboration with other sections such as Sensory Analyses (Q and Q), Meat Technology and Microbiology. We have collaborative associations with University of Pretoria, University of Johannesburg, University of Stellenbosch, University of Free State, University of Western Cape, USDA (USA), Norfima (Norway), RMRDSA, SAPPO, NERPO, and others.

Video Image Analyses System.
Portable Minolta colour measuring spectrophotometer.

​Some examples of projects that we successfully completed in collaboration with other sections and institutions are the following:

  • Evaluation of meat tenderness of indigenous South African cattle breed:  Influence of collagen and the calpain system on tenderness and ageing potential. 

  • Consistency of Quality – 11th International Meat Symposium – 29 and 30 January 2003. 

  • Model to determine the pre- and post-slaughter conditions for A-age (feedlot and pasture), AB-age (feedlot and pasture) and B-age (pasture) crossbred animals from three beef breeds (Brahman-X, Simmentaler-X, and Nguni-X) for optimum meat tenderness (The Tenderness Model)

  • The effect of genotype on beef colour, surface morphology (texture), pathology, shelf life, tenderness and juiciness.  (Genotype and beef attributes). 

  • Pig Leanness Insulin-like growth factor 2 gene status in South Africa.

  • Proteomics to determine protein markers to identify potential tender carcasses. 

  • Determination of slaughter conditions to optimise chevon (goat meat) visual and eating quality

  • The effectiveness of genomic markers in predicting the meat tenderness in pure beef genotypes under South African production and slaughter conditions.

  • Beef and lamb quality audits

  • Muscle profiling in beef

Contact details: 

Ba​ck to Meat Industry Centre