The College of Agricultural Sciences

Animal Sciences


Center for Meat Safety & Quality


About CMSQ

The Center for Meat Safety & Quality (CMSQ) consists of a multidisciplinary group of scientists having as their goal to address national and global issues related to meat safety and quality. The Center at Colorado State University is uniquely positioned, staffed, and equipped to respond, rapidly and competently, to meat safety and quality issues. Center staff has experience in multiple areas of meat safety and quality and are in a position, with flexibility, to conduct research, and to respond swiftly and without bias to such issues.


Colorado State University’s Center for Meat Safety & Quality consists of a multidisciplinary group of scientists having as their mission to address national and global food safety and quality issues through basic and applied research, and technology development and delivery or transfer, with the objective of helping to assure that consumers worldwide have access to a dependable supply of safe and high quality food products; to educate and train undergraduate and graduate students to assume food safety positions in industry, academic institutions and regulatory agencies; and, to provide outreach education to industry, regulatory and public health agencies, Extension educators, agriculture professionals, and consumers.


Food safety is a dynamic and challenging concern which requires generation of new information and continuous re-evaluation of existing knowledge in order to address newly developed, perceived or recognized threats or risks to human health, and to develop effective and economic means for their control, without adverse effects on product quality. Important food safety concerns include illness from pathogenic microorganisms including zoonotic animal pathogens, chemical contaminants, naturally occurring toxicants, and food additives.

The increasing complexity of food production, processing and distribution systems, as well as the continuous development of new products in response to consumer concerns and their demands for convenience in food preparation, as well as the internationalization of the food supply chain, offer challenges for producers, processors, distributors, retailers, researchers, regulators and public health authorities to ensure exemplary food product safety and quality at a reasonable cost. Assuring that consumers worldwide have access to a dependable supply of safe and high quality meat and other food products is the primary goal of the Center for Meat Safety & Quality at Colorado State University.

Specific meat safety and quality issues which have received scientific and regulatory attention, as well as publicity, in recent years include: performance- and risk-based inspection activities for meat and poultry products; decontamination of carcasses and meat with physical or chemical interventions; nationwide microbiological baseline surveys for pathogens; the hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP) system; humane treatment of animals; meat composition, quality and palatability; growth and development of meat animals; work-place safety; bovine spongiform encephalopathy; pesticide, hormone, antibiotic and drug residues in meat products; bans of exports of red meat products to countries such as those of the European Union and Japan due to inspectional differences or safety issues; instrument grading and tenderness assessment of meat; nutritional labeling; food irradiation; product cross-contamination; levels of fat, cholesterol and other lipid components of meat products; detection and tracking of bacterial pathogens; animal identification and food tracing; and, control of microbiological pathogens such as Escherichia coli O157:H7, non- O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella and Campylobacter.

In addition, interest is increasing for adoption of ISO (International Organization for Standardization) Quality Standards by various segments of the food industry as they seek equal and fair competition in overseas markets. The Center for Meat Safety & Quality has available expertise to address all of these issues, and to contribute to enhancement of food safety worldwide.

Priorities & Capabilities

  • Identify and evaluate potential human health problems from bacterial pathogens


  • Study the behavior of pathogenic bacteria (e.g., Escherichia coli O157:H7, non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella and Campylobacter) in foods


  • Reduce the incidence of foodborne illness by developing procedures, techniques, and effective interventions for pathogen reduction and control throughout the food chain


  • Study the molecular ecology and transmission dynamics of human foodborne pathogens


  • Probe the molecular pathogenesis of human foodborne diseases


  • Develop and evaluate techniques and biosensors for rapid detection of foodborne pathogens


  • Examine animal identification and traceability systems for prevention/control of spread of foreign animal diseases, foodborne pathogen outbreaks and agricultural/food bioterrorism


  • Reduce residues of pesticides, other chemicals and toxic compounds, in general, which may find their way into animal food products


  • Enhance the nutritional value of meat by reducing fat levels in animal products


  • Identify value-determining physical characteristics of beef, pork and lamb


  • Assure that meat products are of appropriate quality and palatability to meet the needs of domestic and international customers and consumers


  • Evaluate international trade regulations and develop science-based strategies to ensure exports of high quality, nutritious and safe food products


  • Develop and evaluate outreach education materials for industry, regulatory and public health agencies, Extension educators, agriculture professionals, and consumers to raise awareness of safe food-handling practices and help assure that consumers worldwide have access to a dependable supply of safe and high quality food products


  • Assist producers and processors with understanding local, state, and federal regulations and requirements pertaining to the safe handling, distribution, and traceability of meat products through commercial and direct market outlets

Research Activities

Below are a list of only some of the current research activities conducted in the Center for Meat Safety & Quality. If you have any further questions, or have an interest in a specific research topic please contact us at or (970) 491- 1164


  • Detection and occurrence of foodborne pathogens on carcasses, variety meats, wholesale or retail meat products, processed meat products, and in foods collected from consumer homes
  • Contribution of chemical additives to meat product quality, palatability, shelf-life and safety
  • Prevalence of pathogenic bacteria in feedlot, and other agricultural and processing-plant environments as well as on animals, animal products, and in consumer homes
  • Potential for antimicrobial resistance development in bacteria associated with farm animals
  • Microbial food safety issues associated with non-intact meat products
  • Food safety assistance for small meat and poultry processors through development and implementation of industry best practices
  • Effects of genetics and nutrition on meat product quality, palatability and shelf-life, as well as production management on beef, pork and lamb quality and palatability
  • Comparison of United States and European Union meat inspection and plant sanitation systems and regulations
  • Development of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems for assurance of meat safety by packers and processors
  • Identification of procedures and interventions to prevent contamination of beef products with prions of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE)
  • Evaluation of chemical decontamination treatments for meat products against E. coli O157:H7, non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, and antibiotic resistant and susceptible
  • Salmonella Typhimurium and Salmonella Newport
  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of FreshCase® technology to extend the shelf-life of whole muscle pork, ground pork sausage, muscle beef and ground beef
  •  Use of a high throughput screening approach to identify novel chemical compounds that control foodborne pathogens and evaluation of these compounds to reduce pathogens in foods
  • Comprehensive consumer panel palatability rankings and establishing baseline tenderness of American lamb meat
  • Development of USDA performance standards
  • Nutrient database improvement research— analysis of collected rib and plate cuts, beef loin and round cuts, as well as quantifying the “aging response” for muscles of the beef round
  • Comparison of beef carcass grade standards and application among the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Uruguay
  • Direct and indirect contacts among livestock operations in Colorado, Kansas, and New Mexico as potential transmitters of Foot and Mouth Disease
  • Relationships of USDA camera-based quality grades to beef palatability attributes
  • Colorado beef quality assurance program

Outreach Activities

Scientists at the CMSQ have interacted with management personnel of the National Pork Board, National Meat Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, AMS-USDA, Southwest Meat Association, American Meat Science Association, National Institute for Animal Agriculture, American Association of Meat Processors, National Renderers Association, APHIS-USDA, FSIS-USDA, U.S. Meat Export Federation, FDA-USDHHS and American Meat Institute, as well as with cattlemen, cattle feeders, meat packers, processors and retailers on issues related to foreign animal disease, meatborne pathogens, quality/palatability/shelf-life, value-determining characteristics, export-market access, traceability and meat-waste disposal.

CMSQ scientists are Food Safety Communicators for the Institute of Food Technologists, leaders of the IFT Extension Division, National Good Agricultural Practices Program and Produce Safety Alliance Collaborators, adjunct faculty members of the Colorado School of Public Health, partners with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and CU Denver as one of five national Centers for Excellence in Food Safety, and board members of the Colorado Food Systems Advisory Council.

They have partnered with the state Department of Agriculture to develop the website and on-line GAPs training modules. These CMSQ scientists have been interviewed by persons from the local, state, national and international media, appeared on television and on expert panels, have participated in teleconferences and have worked diligently—behind the scenes—to help shareholders in the meat industry mitigate risk and maximize profitability.

Faculty members of the CMSQ have delivered lectures on meatborne pathogens in more than 20 countries and have traveled to Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Europe, Russia, Egypt, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Taiwan and China as members of U.S. trade teams.

A test developed by CSU for demonstrating safety (freedom from central nervous system tissue) of U.S. beef relative to Specified Risk Material removal in U.S. beef packing plants is used throughout the world. It is this kind of expertise that makes the CMSQ unique.

CMSQ scientists were heavily involved in helping the public of Colorado and the nation in better understanding the 2011 Listeria/cantaloupe deadly outbreak traced to Colorado through local and national media outlets.