Variety is the Spice of Research Life

By Jessica Meisinger, PhD, Director of Education, Science,
and Communication, Fats and Proteins Research Foundation


The Fats and Proteins Research Foundation (FPRF) has two main funding streams. One is the Animal Co-Products Research and Education Center at Clemson University with projects approved and funded at the foundation’s spring meeting each April. The second stream is “at-large” and open to researchers interested in conducting studies to benefit the rendering industry. Submitted research proposals are reviewed and chosen for funding at both the spring meeting and National Renderers Association National Convention each October. Currently, FPRF is funding four at-large projects.

A recently funded project will examine the “Presence, tissue distribution, and concentration of residues associated with administration of barbiturates and other commonly used pharmaceuticals to euthanize livestock” by Dr. Steve Ensley and his team at Iowa State University. Even though livestock mortalities are a comparatively small proportion of the raw materials going to rendering, they can present a potential risk for by-products destined for the food chain.

Currently, the tissue distribution and concentration of barbiturates in dead stock that have been euthanized with these and other pharmacologic agents are not well defined or understood. This FPRF study aims to determine those parameters in ruminants, swine, and horses in an effort to establish the stability of commonly used pharmacologic agents under typical rendering temperatures. The project will also assess the stability of barbiturates and other pharmacologic agents administered prior to euthanasia in livestock at temperatures more than 50 degrees higher than typical rendering temperatures, providing important data to renderers.

The second project is “Assessing factors affecting Salmonella in poultry fat” by Drs. Valentina Trinetta, Greg Aldrich, and Cassandra Jones at Kansas State University. In rare instances, Salmonella contamination of pet foods has been linked to rendered animal fat. This can be a problem when fat is applied to pet food that does not go through a final heat treatment. There has been very limited research on the mechanisms that contribute to Salmonella contamination in fat. The goal of this project is to identify the major factors impacting the presence of Salmonella in animal fat, which is imperative for the continued use of rendered animal fats by the pet food industry.

The objective of the study is to identify the roles of moisture, storage temperature, contamination type, and contamination level on Salmonella spp. concentration over time. The researchers are making progress and have finished all segments of the experiment utilizing the wet inoculation technique, which mimics contamination from moisture. They have moved to experiments using a dry inoculation technique that mimics contamination from the insoluble fraction of the fat.

A third project looks at the “Effect of different fat sources and vitamin E status on antioxidant status, carcass characteristics, and meat quality of pigs grown to heavy slaughter weight” led by Dr. Merlin Lindemann at the University of Kentucky. The project will evaluate coconut oil, corn oil, and tallow in conjunction with vitamin E supplementation specified in the National Research Council (NRC) nutrition guide and at a higher amount. The goal is to demonstrate that supplemental fat source affects performance and pork quality greatly because of the difference in the fatty acid profiles between these fats. The project is also likely to show the vitamin E requirement estimate in the NRC guide is low for modern genetics and the need for this vitamin differs according to which type of supplemental fat is included in the diet.

The researchers will follow up this study with a project looking at corn oil and tallow at multiple levels of vitamin E to better define its requirement for enhanced pork quality depending on the type of added fat in the diet. Vitamin E is important because it can affect lipid oxidation and improve pork quality as well as extend the shelf-life of the product. This project is part of a much larger study funded by the National Pork Board looking at the nutrition of heavyweight market hogs and the impact of nutrition on performance, health, and pork quality. Co-funding research is a beneficial way to leverage resources and share costs between associations for projects of mutual interest. FPRF funds were included to add animal fat to the project as one of the fat sources and should result in valuable information about the supplemental feeding of tallow to pigs.

The final at-large project funded by FPRF will examine the “Flow behavior and spray coating efficiency during the production of rendered protein meals” by Aldrich at Kansas State University. Rendered protein meals will oxidize if not treated so uniform application of antioxidant preservative is important to maintain the quality of these meals. Antioxidant coating uniformity depends on the flow of protein meal.

The objective of this project is to study the dynamic flow characteristics of rendered protein meals and measure the coating uniformity through imaging techniques for a better understanding of flow rates and to improve the efficiency of antioxidant coating systems. So far the research has determined there are flow property differences between chicken meal and beef meal that suggest the coating process would have to be optimized based on raw material.

FPRF has started a new joint venture with Colorado State University called the Alliance for Research and Innovation in the Rendering and Pet Food Industries, which merges the best aspects of the at-large program and a research center. The inaugural meeting in mid-May was attended by representatives of both the rendering and pet food industries and academics. Discussions of challenges, possible solutions, research topics, short-term responses, and longer-term opportunities were frank, rich, and productive. Additional meetings are planned along with a webinar to include more stakeholders and interested researchers. This long-term effort will hopefully lead to focused research proposals that will attract new funding and enhance the use of rendered products in pet food.


August 2017 RENDER | back