The 2017 Center of the Plate Training, sponsored by the North American Meat Institute, was held at the Rosenthal Meat Center at Texas A&M University on August 1-3, 2017. The Center of the Plate Training is designed for purchasers and sellers of meat and poultry to better understand the nomenclature and utilization of cuts for the foodservice and retail sectors. Ann Wells, Director, Education and Workforce Development, North American Meat Institute, is the coordinator of the program, and Davey Griffin, professor and Extension meat specialist, Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University, provided on-campus leadership and served as the primary cutting instructor for the beef, veal, lamb, and pork portions of the program. Jeff Savell, distinguished professor of animal science, and Chris Kerth, associate professor of animal science, also helped with delivery of the program.
The North American Meat Institute conducts the Center of the Plate Training in conjunction with the American Association of Meat Processors, American Meat Science Association, Chicago Midwest Meat Association, Southwest Meat Association, South Eastern Meat Association, and Canadian Meat Council. Sponsors included the Beef Checkoff, the Pork Checkoff, the Lamb Checkoff, and Merck. Representatives from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the American Lamb Board, and the National Pork Board participated in the program.
The Center of the Plate Training is conducted in a classroom environment. Over 80 participants interacted with the instructors who performed cutting demonstrations showing where the cuts came from and the numbering and nomenclature system used to describe them. The Institutional Meat Purchase Specifications (IMPS), maintained and published by the United States Department of Agriculture, are the basis for all product identification. The North American Meat Institute publishes the Meat Buyer’s Guide, which provides a pictorial description of the IMPS and is the workbook used throughout the training program.
The poultry portion of the training was conducted by members of the Agricultural Marketing Service of the United States Department of Agriculture. Richard Lawson, Samantha Rhoderick, and Don Dixon led the discussion on poultry grading, terminology, and common uses of specific poultry products.
The final portion of the program was a discussion of processed meats led by Chris Kerth. Kerth gave a presentation on processed meat ingredients and labeling, and he showed a variety of locally available processed meat products and the labels and marketing claims made for each.
Texas A&M University has hosted the Center of the Plate Training since 2005, and we appreciate the opportunity to work with the North American Meat Institute on this program each year.