'Excelmeat' EU-funded project launches in Bristol

Scientists from across Europe will use genetic expertise to improve livestock breeding and meat quality, focusing especially on pork, notably chorizo and Parma ham. The EXCELMEAT project is led by Bristol-based the University of the West of England (UWE) and part funded by the European Union (EU).

A note from the European Commission said: “The project will use genetics to work toward selective breeding for the best-quality meats, which will be healthier and safer for consumption.”

Researchers will identify physiological candidate genes and genetic markers associated with high meat quality, to improve breeding.

Participating scientists would also develop novel technologies “for fast and inexpensive evaluation of the meat quality”. They are, for instance, examining ways of detecting fat partitioning and developing a three-dimensional cell culture system to study genetic mechanisms regulating food quality.

The UWE's Dr Olena Doran told the Commission: “One of the aspects of this project will be improving the quality of pork, which is the most popular meat in Europe; it can be cured and made into the delicacies such as Parma ham in Italy and chorizo in Spain.”

She added one aim was influencing EU livestock and meat production policies. Her university is working with researchers from Spain, Italy, China, Ukraine, Belgium and the USA.

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