Good on ya, Tom; McMeekin receives Australian award for risk modeling work

Tom always reminded me of my uncle Larry – gregarious and quick with a quip for Douggie whenever I saw him.

ABC News reports that University of Tasmania Emeritus Professor Tom McMeekin has been made an Officer of the Order of Australia for his tom.mcmeekin.jun.13distinguished service to science particularly in the development of food safety standards and education.

Tom was the Professor of Microbiology at the School of Agricultural Science at UTAS and was instrumental in the establishment in the Australian Food Safety Centre of Excellence.

The work he and a group of four other scientists did established new systems of predicting food safety around the world.

“We can do safety and we can do shelf life. We can also predict how a pro-biotic organism will grow in a particular medium like a yoghurt, or if it will die out.”

Tom McMeekin says the model has been adopted in Australia and around the world.

“The biggest breakthrough in application we had was with Meat and Livestock Australia who negotiated with AQIS on behalf of the Australian meat industry to change the way meat was tested.

Prior to these predictive models meat in a chiller in an export abattoir had to be cooled and then tested for the e coli or whatever. So retrospective, holding your product until you are sure nothing has grown on it.

Now we can use the model as a surrogate for that testing, and the model gives you an answer in real time.

That is now mandated in the export control orders and that is what monitors safe chilling process in Australian export abattoirs.