My name is Chris Deignan, and I’m a senior in Animal and Dairy Sciences. This semester I am working under Dr. Liao with Mr. Tim Armstrong in the MSU Meat Laboratory in Ballew Hall. I really enjoyed the hands on experience and knowledge that I gained while enrolled in Intro to Meats Processing, so I was eager to begin my work here. I was able to spend 7.5 hours working this week performing duties required in the every-day procedures of a processing facility. Along with the help of another student working, I prepared jerky by stacking slices of beef into a container in single rows, and then spreading jerky seasoning liberally all around. More beef was then layered on top, and more seasoning spread. This was repeated until all of the meat was used, and it was then mixed vigorously until it was relatively even. Finally, it was covered and stored in the cooler for smoking the following morning.
In the process of daily extraction and preparation of meat, a there comes a large need for proper cleaning of equipment. After the equipment is done being used for the day, everything is then washed, scrubbed, and rinsed thoroughly. These are what I like to refer to as ‘character-building experiences’, as they require a good bit of elbow grease. Luckily, I will be able to invest much of my time in building my character up this semester! In all seriousness, I really do enjoy the work that I get to partake in at this facility.
This week at the meat lab was yet another interesting experience. I got to learn how to use a vacuum sealer in order to package beef jerky produced at by the meat lab. As I am completely unfamiliar with equipment of this type, it was cool just to watch it in action, but it sealed the jerky very effectively. As I learned last week, work in this facility creates a large need for equipment to be cleaned, so I spent a good bit of time cleaning things such as the smoker, the racks that hold meat in the smoke room, and scrubbing plenty of sinks. The students in Meat Science class began their harvest this week, but I was unable to attend it; hopefully I will be able to be there next week to assist. I am very much enjoying the work environment in the lab, as everyone is very easy going and has a good sense of humor. I normally work on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday afternoons, but there was little to do on Tuesday, giving me a total of 6 hours for this week. I am looking forward to participating in a more labor intensive experience as the semester progresses!