The U.S. Meat Export Federation is providing graduate students an opportunity to work in the international marketplace.



Each year USMEF provides two meat science graduate students the chance to work internationally, gaining experience through exposure to opportunities and challenges that the U.S. meat industry faces when marketing products abroad.



Meat science graduate students Courtney Heller of Colorado State University and Kevin Brueggemeier of Ohio State University participated in this year's USMEF internship program. The point is to help prepare and educate future meat scientists on how economic, technical, policy and cultural conditions in international markets affect the U.S. meat industry's ability to export.



The interns gathered information from Asia, Central and South America about meat-product additives, allowable levels of additives and maximum residue limits for such things as antibiotics and pesticides that are used in the United States.



The interns compiled their data for U.S. producers, processors and exporters to ensure that products do not exceed maximum residue limits set by international markets.



Heller, who graduates this month, spent two months in Asia based out of the USMEF office in Tokyo.



"My objective was to provide processors, producers and marketers with an exporting tool that outlines veterinary drugs and agricultural chemicals along with the maximum residue export requirements for Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan in an easily accessible format," she said.



Brueggemeier, studying pork quality and genetics at Ohio State University, is set to graduate next year. He spent two months based in the USMEF office in Mexico City, where he gathered information from Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Mexico on maximum residue limits of antibiotics and pesticides.



"It's extremely beneficial to know maximum residue limits as they change from country to country," Brueggemeir said. He also assisted USMEF at the National Association of Federal Inspection Type Establishments Foundation conference to promote meat grading in Mexico by identifying U.S. procedures that could be used in Mexico and emphasizing the positive aspects of grading such as increased consumer product acceptance.



Brueggemeir participated in a meat-tenderness research project to determine shear force, chemical composition and color and texture analysis to provide products in the marketplace that best appeal to consumers. The research shows that U.S. meat products are just as good, if not better, than Mexican meat products. The results indicated that Mexican beef was more tough and dry than U.S. beef, and U.S. pork is more tender, according to the Warner Bratzler shear force, the most popular method to measure meat tenderness.



"These two findings bring out great marketing advantages for both beef and pork exporters, and if they can convince the consumers they might be able to gain some ground on domestic products," says Brueggemeier.



He researched information on U.S. standards and regulations of meat importation, including rules, fees, inspection and sampling and compared them to Mexico's standards to help U.S. exporters identify and understand the differences so they could easily export to Mexico.



This is the second year of the USMEF internship program, developed in cooperation with the American Meat Science Association and jointly funded by USDA's Foreign Agriculture Service and by producers through their beef and pork checkoffs. The internship is offered yearly with AMSA coordinating the application process and USMEF finalizing and placing candidates in international offices.



SOURCE: The U.S. Meat Export Federation.