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Focus Area 4 Components


Focus Area 4A : Animal Products, Quality and Value-adding




Research should clarify the roles of product composition, molecular structure and physical state in determining quality and functionality.  Genetic improvement and research of processes should maintain or enhance product quality during harvest, storage, transport and marketing.

New knowledge is needed to understand the genetics affecting product development and improve control and manipulation of physiological systems supporting muscling, growth, metabolism, and mammary function. 

Research will focus on identifying genes that influence product, factors directing nutrient partitioning toward protein and less fat to improve efficiency, enhanced nutrient composition in livestock products and improved meat tenderness.
i. New knowledge derived from a better understanding of the microstructure and biochemistry of muscle and fat and their relationships with meat quality characteristics facilitate development of a variety of new products.
ii. Better understanding of the inherent mechanisms that maintain quality characteristics of meat should allow for genetic manipulation to maximise desired traits, to limit variability in quality characteristics and to improve processes that can extend the life of these desirable traits.
iii. Improved knowledge regarding the genetic control of value-added traits to assist in developing new and improved meat and other livestock products.
Assessment of genetic variation in meat quality and the evaluation of the role of candidate genes in beef characteristics with a view to breed for improved product quality, eg. meat with less fat and/or better distribution (inter-muscular fat).
Development and implementation of technology that can measure meat quality characteristics on live animals for breeding purposes.
The characterisation of South African beef genotypes for genes associated with beef quality characteristics.
Among the desirable qualities of foods, is the absence of chemical residues, pathogens and spoilage organisms.

Urgent research is required for reliable and rapid methods to detect and eliminate pathogens and reduce the risk of chemical residues from drugs, food additives, herbicides, pesticides and environmental contaminants in/on livestock throughout the pre-harvesting and post-harvesting processes. Improved techniques and management procedures to extend product shelf life for both formal and informal markets are urgently needed.

Monitoring and service programmes should focus on quality surveys, establishment of sustainable surveillance programmes, meat safety systems and the use of microbial indicators as food safety and quality standards to ensure safe foods. 


Improved products and processes of extending shelf life during storage to optimise nutritional value and safety, to reduce waste, improve efficiency and allow new uses that are currently limited or not feasible.
ii. The means to ensure that the food supply is safe for consumers and that food (imported and exported) meet foreign and domestic regulatory requirements. 
Scientific information on which to base guidance or meat safety programmes that effectively controls the presence of pathogens and toxic residues in livestock foods. 
Minimal pathogen and chemical residues in livestock being presented for slaughter.
Infrastructure, materials, equipment and systems to ensure the safe handling and storage of animal products.
FOCUS AREA 4B : Red Meat Safety, Nutritional Value, Consumerism and Consumer Behaviour

Nutritional value
Information on the nutritional composition of foods and bio-availability of nutrients is essential for food programmes, preventative medicine and dietetics, and the provision of appropriate diets for individuals and communities.  Extensive information is required for key, restaurant, fast and indigenous foods.  These, in addition, need to be sensory appraised to determine consumer acceptance and, where applicable, to recommend modification. 

A more nutritious red meat supply can be generated by defining the basis for modifying the health promoting properties of foods, which can be achieved through biotechnology, genetics and new food processing techniques.  Foods, which promote health beyond providing basic nutrition, are known as “functional” foods.  They have the potential to promote health in ways not anticipated by traditional nutrition science. 

The development of functional foods using functional food ingredients / substances / properties is needed.  
Amongst others, this may assist in strengthening the human immune system to combat the contraction or transfer of e.g. HIV and AIDS and malnutrition related diseases. 
i. Determine the composition, quality and bio-availability of nutrients in red meat and red meat products.

Information of nutrient density of red meat and red meat products.
Sensory appraisal.
Generate a more nutritious red meat supply by conducting research that defines the basis for modifying the health promoting properties of foods and food components, and make beneficial changes in the composition of foods (using biotechnology, genetics and processing techniques).
Extended dietary guidance to enhance public confidence in animal food supply and to improve the scientific basis for more effective food assistance programmes by making available a comprehensive database to dietitians and nutritionists.

Value adding

Research should enhance knowledge of product development and processing, and specifically emphasise new and novel products that can enter niche export markets on the one hand but also underdeveloped local markets.
Innovative processes should be created and existing ones adopted to manufacture new or value-added products.  Application of these innovative technologies could expand the range and value of livestock products and reduce the ratio of cost of production to market value.  Sources of natural products are expected to be identified for use as nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, biopesticides and other innovative applications 
i. Affordable and suitable meat and meat-containing products to satisfy the needs of sophisticated domestic and international consumers and the needs of the meat processors to obtain suitable carcass balancing.
ii. New technologies to convert processed by-products into useful value-added products such as fat substitutes, high-quality animal feeds, improved textiles, hides and skins, pharmaceutical ingredients, enzymes and cosmetics.
iii. Useful products from low value and waste products such as slaughter offal and manure to increase the overall efficiency of utilisation. 
Consumerism / Consumer behaviour
Probably the most intriguing science is to understand the behaviour of consumers. It entails continuous investigation to understand how consumers behave to different market stimuli.  Consumer behaviour involves, amongst other things, issues pertaining to food safety considerations, product quality, buying patterns and fashion statements by Adam Smith that “Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production”.  Hence the success of production and market penetration to a large extent will be determined by the success of how consumer preferences and whims have been taken into account or researched.  i.
New or adapted products on the market adhering to consumer preferences and tastes.
Improve the ability of role players to adhere to what consumers want in an affordable and sustainable manner.
Provision of information that could be fed back into the production and processing systems.