27 - August - 2012

Within the framework of the USDA Foreign Agricultural Services (FAS) funded Food Safety project, Meat Fabrication and Grading training was initiated and conducted in Armenia from July 19 to July 26.

The course was delivered by highly qualified experts from USA – Curtis Chisley from the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center and Orlando Phelps from the USDA Grading and Verification Division.

The training consisted of a two-day theoretical part and a four-day practical course in one of the slaughterhouses. The course was designed to equip people employed in the meat processing industry with the knowledge to effectively and efficiently grade carcasses in accordance with US and EU standards, and familiarize them with the main retail and wholesale cuts of beef, pork, lamb and goat carcasses. The main techniques of marketing animals and meat to consumers were presented as well.

“Doing this trip, we wanted to help the participants understand some of the different marketing practices that other consumers outside Armenia may have desire for. These were some of the things that we wanted to expose them and let them see other marketing used around the world”, mentioned Orlando Phelps.

Both Armenian and US sides presented the ways of grading and cutting different carcasses compared and evaluated the advantages and shortfalls of different techniques and instrument methods.

Thirty-four participants, representing governmental agencies, supermarkets, butchery stores, slaughterhouses, Armenian State Agrarian University and private businesses, were very excited and impressed with the neat and uniform appearance of the presented retail cuts, and everyone expressed a desire to see such convenient and attractive offers at Armenian supermarkets in the near future.

While meat quality was the major focus of the current training, further training programs are being discussed to address meat hygiene and safety issues. In addition to the market-driven motivation for meat handlers to apply knowledge acquired during the training and assure safety of their production, regulations must be enforced for more regular compliance provision. Therefore, one of the important objectives of the project is to work with the State Food Safety Service to strengthen in- country regulatory compliance.

“This trip was basically on marketing of animals and meat, and the food safety inspection of meat was not the key point of our discussions. This area still needs to be addressed, and that’s something that I am hoping Armenia is working towards”, said Curtis Chisley.

“We will try to implement projects to work more on the food safety side, so that the meat that’s going into the Armenian system is as safe as possible,” added USDA FAS Food Safety Program Manager, Cynthia Evans.