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CSU Meat Lab looking to expand

Anyone attempting to nap on Monfort Quad between classes probably noticed the massive renovations being made to the Animal Science Building.

Currently, everything but the original brick and mortar are being stripped and renovated. Animal science classes and faculty have relocated across campus for the duration, but the CSU Meat Laboratory is still operating at full capacity just beyond the hard hat zone.

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“We’re very creative at continuing to work while all this is going on, because if you had to shut down a program like this for two years it would be devastating,” said Robert Delmore, meat science professor and faculty adviser at the lab.

The Meat Lab is located at the east end of the animal science building and only accessible via the rear loading dock.

The lab, which consists of a commercial kitchen and meat fabricating facility, houses a great deal of CSU’s meat science research. A multidisciplinary group of faculty, graduate students and undergrads use the facility to test everything from meat tenderness to microbial growth associated with food safety.

“We do lots and lots of different things in here. We teach in this facility, we do research in this facility, we have our judging team work out of this facility,” Delmore said.

The lab also sells a variety of meat cuts, mostly beef, lamb and pork — all fabricated and cut by students.

“Everything that we run through this facility is sold to the public, because essentially we have to be self-funding,” Delmore said. “The students do everything. They are doing all the fabricating, all of the cutting and all of the interacting with the customers with our oversight and help.”

The lab offers students interested in the industry the opportunity to experience food safety and customer service firsthand.

“Every cut that’s going out that door, somebody is going to eat or give to their family, and we have to insure that it’s a safe, wholesome product so that not only are they willing to come back and buy from us, but they feel safe buying from us,” said Brandy Marrinan, junior animal science major who works in the lab.

While the meat lab employees and researchers will be happy when the first phase of renovation to the Animal Science building is done, they are already thinking ahead to the second phase — a $15 million addition to the building, including an entirely new meat lab, an animal showing arena and a harvesting facility.

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“Everything is approved to proceed, now we’re in fundraising mode,” said Keith Belk, faculty member of CSU’s Center for Meat Safety & Quality.

The department is reaching out to industry leaders including Tyson, Hormel, Cargill and JBS to meet their sponsorship goals.

The CMSQ hopes this addition will propel CSU even higher in national rankings.

“We’re one of the top five or six programs in the country from a meat science perspective and easily on our way up to the top one, two or three. This new facility will just add to our dynamic,” Delmore said, who is also on the faculty of the CMSQ.

Marrinan agrees improvements to the facility are necessary for the program to remain competitive nationwide.

“We’re a land grant university that does a lot of research, and without new technology and development it’s not going to be possible for us to be as competitive,” Marrinan said.

If all goes according to schedule, the first phase of renovation should be done before fall 2014. Belk is optimistic second phase will be complete in 2016.

Collegian Editor at Large Isabella Heepke-Laws can be reached at community@collegian.com.

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