August 12, 2013
By Michael Chao, USMEF intern
I cannot believe today is actually my last day here at USMEF. It has been three months since I moved to Denver. Since my last blog post, I was given the tasks to accompany two trade teams to tour U.S. animal agriculture. The first one was a Chinese team from Hebei province and the second one is a Taiwanese team. I also completed two more fact sheets, one is on how consuming red meat benefits human nutrition, and the other one is on food safety at the regulatory and commercial level.
The Chinese team members were mainly animal science academia and hog producers. I led them through a purebred cow/calf operation and a feedlot. Most of them have never seen cattle grazing on pastures because in China, it is illegal to let your cattle to graze on pastures due to concerns of over-grazing resulting in desertification. They were also amazed by the scale of the feedlots here in the United States. In China, an operation of 1,000 head of cattle would be considered huge, and a major packing plant would kill about 500 head of cattle per week.
I spent three days with the Taiwanese team. We toured a portion control plant, a cow/calf operation, a feedlot and two major packing plants. The Taiwanese team members all have food service background. One of the members owns a high-end Western steakhouse, and he wanted to add new items on his menu. I suggested flat iron steaks, and he seemed to be interested in it. One other member owns a chain buffet style Yakiniku (Japanese-style BBQ) restaurant. He has about 30 restaurants that utilize approximately 40,000 lb of beef per month. I suggested some alternatives to the typical short ribs and short plates that might help him lower his costs, such as brisket point, rib lifter meat and the newly introduced ranch cut from the shoulder clod. At the end of the trip, they all gained a good understanding of the muscle cuts and U.S. animal agriculture in general.
The human nutrition fact sheet focuses on how red meat could be a good weight management tool as well as it provides quality nutrients to people of all ages. The food safety fact sheet aims to educate consumers about meat inspection, pathogen reduction, HACCP, third-party certification and safe substances used in meat production.
I am moving back to Nebraska this weekend to continue my education at the University. I know I am going to miss all of the kind people here, and hopefully, I will have the chance to come back one day. Adios Denver and USMEF!