A New Partnership: Animal Biosciences teams up with Meat and Poultry Ontario

Posted on Monday, October 3rd, 2022

 Luis Garcia – Director, CMIT, Franco Naccarato –Exec Dir, MPO,  Jim Squires – Chair, Dept. of Animal Biosciences
In photo: Luis Garcia – Director, CMIT, Franco Naccarato –Exec Dir, MPO, Jim Squires – Chair, Dept. of Animal Biosciences

The Canadian meat sector has enjoyed strong performance in the national and international markets for years.  However, growth and competitiveness are being jeopardised by a significant labour shortage, as well as by limited access of small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) to technology (robotics, automation, data management).  Meat and Poultry Ontario (MPO) has been advocating for the need to increase training availability in Ontario and address existing labour challenges.  In 2021, MPO conducted a Workforce Strategy that identified key action items to work on— recruitment, training, leadership development, and the need to help companies be more efficient and produce more with less human resources.

Aiming to address these and other concerns, Meat and Poultry Ontario created the Centre for Meat Technology and Innovation (CMIT). The CMIT will deliver specific training within different sectors in the meat production chain, creating career pathways that attract and retain new employees.  This initiative is founded on a partnership with the University of Guelph, which, in addition to state-of-the-art scientific research labs, is the only educational institution in Canada that houses a federally inspected facility including a harvest floor, a meat cutting room and a ready-to-eat processing room (all located within the Department of Animal Biosciences). 

CMIT’s main goal is to strengthen the meat and poultry industry by advancing innovation, research and skills.  Through effective partnerships and collaboration, the CMIT will be a place that offers the best scientific research, training, and innovation resources to industry.  It will be where the current and next generation of industry employees (at all levels) are trained and educated through short courses and micro-credentials (from knife skills to meat chemical & physical characteristics).  It will also be where companies find avenues to design, test and implement much needed automation and robotics, and software technologies for SMEs in the meat and poultry industry.  CMIT will also be open for researchers to test and validate their findings in any area of meat science, (e.g., new innovative process technologies, food safety), or to connect and collaborate with colleagues at other research institutions.  Having completed its Strategic Plan, work is already ongoing with companies on topics such as automation options or a microbiological validation study.  Short courses are also being developed, planning for 2023 delivery.

The MSL was on full display during Alumni and Reunion Week this past June. Animal Biosciences was honored to host the OAC Class of 77’ who have supported many U of G projects including renovations of the facility in 2018.  In attendance at the event were Department Chair Dr. Jim Squires and CMIT Director Luis Garcia, who discussed the new partnership with MPO. Also present were Dr. Marcio Duarte, who recently started his position as an Assistant Professor of Meat Science and Muscle Biology and  led alumni on a tour of the muscle biology lab as well as MSL manager Gino Giansante who discussed recent activities at the facility and provided a walk-through of the RTE/smokehouse, abattoir and dissection classroom. In honor of their generous donations, a plaque was presented to OAC ‘77 by Cassandra Barden and Shannon Fawns from the OAC Dean’s Office.

For more information on CMIT, please contact Luis Garcia at luis@meatpoultryon.ca.


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