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Meat-Up Tour with FaB Wisconsin

Posted By Tiffany Scuglik On August 29, 2018

Last week, JP Cullen conducted a sneak peek facility site tour of the new UW Madison Meat Science & Animal Biologics Discovery Building with FaB Wisconsin to Food and Meat Processing companies in Wisconsin. The tours were led by University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Meat Science Associate Professor, Jeff Sindelar, and JP Cullen’s Project Manager, Justin Buchholz.

– Jeff Sindelar is preparing to take the FaB Tour Group through the UW Madison Meat Science & Animal Biologics Discovery Building.
This new state-of-the-art research laboratory is a multi-faceted facility that will be used by students, professors, researchers, and food and meat processing companies. Research will be conducted by teams of scientists including microbiologists, engineers, food scientists, and pharmacists. The facility’s mission is to train the next generation of meat industry leaders, support innovative research, and provide outreach education.

There is one singularity that makes this structure the only one of its kind. It’s what’s inside that makes this building notably exceptional. This is the only facility in the world to house a USDA Certified Meat Processing Plant and a Biosafety Level II Laboratory under one roof.

The USDA certified space will be a small scale plant where students can learn the systems of meat processing. It will start with the load-in of live animals, such as cattle, hogs, poultry, and sheep. The animals will then be harvested and the carcasses sent to both coolers and freezers. After this, the meat will be cut, processed, and can then be boxed and prepared to ship. The newly packaged meat products will also be sold on-site within the retail space of the building. One impressive aspect of the USDA space of the building is the refrigeration rooms. Throughout this portion of the building, there are ten total chilling, cooling, and freezing rooms. Of these ten refrigerated rooms, two of them are used as Demonstrative Cooler Rooms. Students can observe live demonstrations of meat processing within the auditorium seating rooms in the UW Meat Science Building.

– A rendering of one of the Demonstration Cooler Rooms and classroom

In addition to the USDA space where the meat is processed, the BSL2 Lab can take research to the next level. Within this lab space, carcasses, organs, and other tissue can be infused with different types of diseases to observe the effect on the meat. Sterilization and sanitation methods can be tested on meat processing equipment that has come into contact with contaminated meat products. The packaging can also be tested for its seal protection strength against diseases. Overall, the purposes of these tests are to ensure safety of both the meat product and the packaging which will create safer consumer products for the future.

With both of these extremely different amenities under one roof, safety is the greatest concern. The problem of contamination has prioritized the design of this building. Separating the BSL2 Lab and USDA sections of the building is a concrete shear wall, with forming tie holes plugged with epoxy and inspected by the State of Wisconsin, to deter cross-contamination. In addition to the concrete shear wall, there are separate utilities, entries and exits, and an air lock vestibule between mechanical rooms. With these measures in place, safety of the processed meats is concrete.

An important outreach effort of the UW Madison Meat Science Program is the retail store, a student-run meat shop operating within the new laboratory. The general public can purchase products that were produced in the facility.

Another important outreach effort of the facility is to allow not only students and professors, but food and meat processing companies to have space in the facilities to conduct research and tests at this facility.

Thank you to everyone that came out for the tour! Be sure to check out our UW-Madison Meat Science Laboratory page for updates on the project!