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UW-Madison Researchers To Study Marketing, Processing Improvement For Alternative Red Meats

A team of University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers will tackle some of the challenges facing the alternative red-meat industry in the upper Midwest. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, in collaboration with the Meat Science Laboratory at the UW-Madison”s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, has received a grant to study ways to improve marketing and processing in this rapidly growing industry.

Alternative red-meat animals include ratites, such as ostriches, emu and rhea; farm-raised red deer and fallow deer; and bison. In the five-state region of Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota, estimates reflect that more than 5,000 producers raise alternative forms of livestock. Preliminary survey results indicate that challenges shared by these producers are strikingly similar, namely, enhancing marketing opportunities through the development of baseline harvesting standards, value-added food products, and product nutritional information.

To address these challenges, CALS meat scientists Dennis Buege, Larry Borchert and Mark Kreul will focus on four objectives: 1) Evaluate harvest technologies to maximize product quality, 2) Develop residue testing guidelines to ensure public confidence as these products enter organic, natural, health or gourmet food markets, 3) Develop ready-to-eat and minimal-preparation meat products that add value, improve product consistency or add flavor diversity to the marketplace, and 4) Complement existing USDA nutritional information by conducting cooked-product analyses.

The project should be completed by early 2000; the final report will be available to all in the alternative red meat industry. For more information, contact Kreul at (608) 262-0463,

The grant was provided by the USDA”s Federal – State Marketing Improvement Program, following a grant proposal by WDATCP Secretary Ben Brancel.