Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute leads European Beef Industry Workshop

Date published: 21 February 2017

Area of Expertise:

The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) recently convened a European Workshop in Milan to discuss some of the key challenges facing the beef industry, with more than 80 people from the beef industry and research communities across Europe attending.The meeting was organised by AFBI with the University of Milan, funded by the UK Science and Innovation Network.

peakers, chairs and organisers at the Workshop on Sustainable Beef Quality for Europe held at the Touring Club, Milan on 1-2 February.

The overall goal of the meeting was to strengthen links and exchange knowledge between scientists and industry representatives across Europe on some of the key challenges facing the beef industry. Four sessions of short talks addressed four key topics, while two extended workshops provided delegates the opportunity to discuss the issues raised and contribute their comments. Expert speakers from research and industry from Europe and also USA, China and Australia covered a wide range of topics.

More than 80 people from the beef industry and research communities across Europe attended the workshop in Milan on 1-2 February 2017.
More than 80 people from the beef industry and research communities across Europe attended the workshop in Milan on 1-2 February 2017.
The first session, on ‘Beef and Human Health’ considered the outcome of the recent WHO report on the impact of red meat on the incidence of human cancer, followed by the potential mechanisms by which red meat may influence cancer formation and what can be done to mitigate any effect. Other speakers described approaches to optimise the composition of red meat as a source of dietary nutrients and micronutrients and to evaluate the true amount of beef eaten.

The second session of this workshop provided an ‘Update on Beef Eating Quality’.  Collaborative research across Europe to obtain more information on factors affecting eating quality was described, together with recent developments in instrumental prediction of quality attributes and the benefits of introducing payment systems that reward farmers on the basis of the quality of the meat produced, not only on quantity.

On the second day, a session on ‘Beef Environment and Welfare’ highlighted the challenges facing the beef industry in terms of its environmental impact. While expansion to meet future population needs could have a detrimental effect on the climate, Europe has one of the most efficient and least damaging beef production regimes. The approach used in China to make maximum use of all parts of the animal attracted considerable interest. Italian initiatives to evaluate the carbon footprint of beef and to optimise the welfare of animals were also discussed.

The fourth session discussed ‘Adding value throughout the supply chain’, including industry priorities to reduce variation in quality and meet customer needs, innovations in packaging technologies and new processing technologies.

Two workshops generated discussion: Workshop 1, entitled, ‘How can the industry help to ensure that beef has a positive nutritional impact?’ and Workshop 2, on ‘How should the industry manage the environmental impact of beef?’ A proposal for funding to the EU for a Thematic Network to continue to build knowledge exchange across Europe within the beef industry was outlined, and this will be led by Dr Linda Farmer from the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute.

The aim will be to continue the dialogue between all those with an interest in the beef industry across Europe into the future, so that an informed and consolidated approach can be taken to the industry’s challenges.

Read the presentations given here

Notes to editors: 

AFBI carries out high quality technology research and development, statutory, analytical, and diagnostic testing functions for DAERA and other Government departments, public bodies and commercial companies.

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