The food safety experts in the Texas Tech University department of animal and food sciences have earned a reputation worldwide for their expertise in developing safe practices for the food industry and helping developing nations enhance and secure their food supply.
The department houses the International Center for Food Industry & Excellence (ICFIE), a collaborative effort between the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources and the College of Human Sciences to emphasize food safety, value-added processing, nutrition and outreach and education. Texas Tech’s food safety laboratories are unmatched globally, and the research developed there has made a difference in the quality and safety of food in all corners of the globe, according to the university.
That reach just stretched a little further: Texas Tech announced May 10 two significant philanthropic investments from Cargill and Teys Australia to support research in meat science.
Cargill will donate $750,000 to establish the Cargill Endowed Professorship in Sustainable Meat Science, while Teys Australia, a partnership between the Teys family and Cargill, is making a $2 million gift to support meat science research at Texas Tech. Both gifts represent a strategic and significant investment in the department of animal and food sciences.
“We are grateful for the investment Cargill and Teys Australia have made to help Texas Tech University provide world-class expertise ensuring a plentiful and reliable food source,” chancellor Robert Duncan said. “Philanthropy is how we advance higher education. The generosity of these gifts allows us to continue serving as global leaders in animal and food sciences.”
Research on sustainable meat science looks at the production of meat animals and how they are processed into high-quality, nutritious protein sources to improve the quality of life and health of global consumers using production systems that are sustainable, environmentally friendly, nutritious and affordable.
By investing in Texas Tech, Teys Australia hopes to address real-world challenges that affect not only Australia but also other countries as well.
“These investments from two of the world’s agricultural leaders reflect the confidence the industry has in our research and our people,” Texas Tech president Lawrence Schovanec said. “Texas Tech University continues to increase its global profile through its education of our students and innovations in research. We are grateful to Cargill and Teys Australia for their commitment to higher education and ensuring we continue making a difference through our research.”
Mark Miller, a professor and San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo distinguished chair in meat science at Texas Tech, said the investment by Cargill and Teys Australia will allow experts to work on a more global scale to develop and research issues in meat science. The gifts will enable Texas Tech to develop future leaders committed to making meat sciences sustainable on a global level.
“The Cargill and Teys representatives see Texas Tech’s students, faculty and staff as world-class, and they want to partner with us as a result of the people we have in our program,” Miller said. “Establishing an endowed faculty position to focus on and address the needs of meat production sustainability on a global scale will lay the groundwork to ensure that research continues and partnerships are strengthened between students and future employers.”
Teys, a family business begun in 1946, provides quality beef products in Australia and has grown into the second-largest meat processor and exporter in the country. Dedicated to “Feeding People, Enriching Lives,” Teys Australia states that it embodies an unwavering commitment to the success and sustainability of its 4,500 employees, customers, suppliers and the communities in which it operates and does this by providing beef and value-added meat products in the Australian market and to customers in more than 60 countries.
“Teys Australia is delighted to make this contribution to Texas Tech for the advancement of meat science, food safety and capability,” said Tom Maguire, general manager of corporate services for Teys Australia. “After a worldwide search, Teys has identified Texas Tech as a global leader in meat science and food safety research, and we are pleased to be able to support these efforts.”
Maguire explained that Teys Australia has been in business in Australia for 71 years and recognizes that its future success depends on its ability to adapt to rapidly changing consumer preferences, technology and global competition. “The work done at Texas Tech equips our meat industry, through research and development of future talent, to best respond to this. We are pleased to contribute to these endeavors.”
Cargill’s Wichita, Kan.-based North American protein business employs 28,000 people, mainly in the U.S. and Canada, and encompasses nearly 60 facilities, including primary and further-processing plants, feed mills, hatcheries, an innovation center, sales offices and distribution centers. Leveraging its expertise in research and development, innovation, food safety, animal welfare, sustainability, culinary services, consumer insights and other aspects of meat production, Cargill’s protein group is focused on delivering results that help grow its customers’ businesses.
“Cargill’s long-standing collaborative relationship with the Texas Tech meat science department makes the university a perfect choice for the creation of an endowed professorship focused on improving sustainable beef production for future generations,” said Brian Sikes, Cargill corporate vice president and president of the company’s North American protein business.
“Research tells us global demand for animal protein will continue to increase, and the beef sustainability work that will be done at Texas Tech complements our efforts as a founding member of the global, U.S. and Canadian beef sustainability roundtables," Sikes continued. "Together, we will work toward meeting the demand for sustainable beef that will come from more than 9 billion people who will populate the planet by 2050. This is a win-win situation for Texas Tech, Cargill, the beef industry, our customers and consumers around the world.”
Steve Fraze, interim dean of the Texas Tech College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, said the announcement demonstrates the worldwide reach of the meat science program.
“Gifts of this magnitude for the meat science program from Teys Australia and Cargill validate our reputation both nationally and internationally for the quality of our programs, both teaching and research, ... in the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources at Texas Tech University,” Fraze said.
Texas Tech provides innovation, research and technology transfer across the four pillars of food security: access, availability, stability and utilization. It has performed extensive research into numerous food safety issues, including Escherichia coli, antimicrobial drug resistance in cattle and battling Johne’s disease in dairy cattle, a disease that affects the small intestines of ruminant animals and can be fatal. Texas Tech’s food safety experts also have partnered with Mexico's meat industry to establish pathogen baselines in Mexican meat and have helped establish guidelines and develop meat nutrition in countries throughout Africa and New Zealand.
ICFIE also serves as a National Surveillance Laboratory for the "Retail Meat Surveillance Program" of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System, thanks to a federal grant.