In the meat and livestock industry, efficiency leads to increased productivity, which often leads to increased profitability. All three are key factors behind the SAIT meat lab renovations and the Olds College meat-processing lab equipment upgrade.
SAIT originally offered a 15-week meat-cutting program strictly focused on the retail meat industry. With the addition of the recently renovated butchery lab and the new charcuterie lab, SAIT extended the program to a year, appealing to both retail and culinary audiences.
The program is dual purpose, according to Tom Bornhorst, dean, school of hospitality and tourism, SAIT.
“The extended program is geared towards educating both meat cutters and chefs who will learn how to create value-added protein products. As well, they will learn to recognize food safety issues that arise from this type of meat processing,” said Bornhorst.
Bornhorst expects the program to more than double in capacity, with potentially 35 students enrolling in the September 2015 class.
The new program also has a consumer aspect. The campus sells packaged products, while the newly renovated butchery lab offers specialized cuts for customers preferring Alberta protein products.
Olds College sought to fill various industry knowledge gaps. These include the need for value-added products; improved product, processing and packaging methods; value chain development; and traceability technologies and applications.
With these key points in mind, Olds College developed a program that is geared towards training those in entry-level positions. Not only will this help fill industry’s labour void, but it will also increase knowledge and skills using updated equipment to enhance the value of a carcass.
Proper meat handling is essential to food safety. “Depending on the methods and equipment used for handling cuts of beef, the meat can be compromised or potentially enhanced,” said Brad McLeod, program co-ordinator at Olds College.
Olds College has “added value-added capacity for charcuterie, industrial canning and to develop new innovative products,” he said.
“This capacity allows us to lead our industry in nose-to-tail butchery. As well, our unique slaughter module provides gate-to-plate products raised on our farm, processed right on campus and sold in our new retail store. This allows our graduates to access jobs in all sectors of the meat industry.”
The Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency has partnered with SAIT and Olds College on their respective projects.