Is your hamburger done? Color is a lousy indicator; K-State’s Hunt honored by American Meat Science Association

The American Meat Science Association has announced that Melvin C. Hunt of Kansas State University is the recipient of the 2012 American Meat Science Association R. C. Pollock Award. He will be honored at the AMSA 65th Reciprocal Meat Conference on June 19 in Fargo, N.D.

Sponsored by the AMSA Educational Foundation, the award honors an AMSA member whose work through teaching, extension, research, or service represents an extraordinary and lasting contribution to the meat industry.

“Dr. Hunt’s reputation as a preeminent meat color researcher is well-known throughout the world,” said Thomas Powell, executive director of AMSA. “His service to the meat industry and the meat science discipline spans two decades of teaching, mentoring and research.”

Hunt, or ‘Hunter’ as he is known, began his career as a research chemist for Tennessee Eastman Company working on new applications of antioxidants, surfactants and meat packaging systems. He also developed a proprietary base for functional dietary fibers suitable for sequestering bile acids and lowering serum cholesterol and as a replacement for nitrite in cured meats.

He has been a part of the animal science faculty at Kansas State University since 1975, where his research focused on postmortem meat quality with particular interest in factors affecting meat color and myoglobin chemistry. He served as chair of the Food Science and Industry Undergraduate Program for 19 years.

Hunt is internationally recognized for his expertise in meat color measurement and was the primary author of the Guidelines for Meat Color Measurement published by AMSA. The guide is the only comprehensive document on meat color measurement available to meat scientists.

He has published widely on meat pigment chemistry, meat color and packaging systems. In the last six years, he has authored or co-authored 51 refereed journal articles and he has been a speaker at national and international conferences to discuss his research. He has received research funding from national and commodity sources and from more than 50 major packaging and ingredient companies to address pigment chemistry, shelf life, color life, cold chain management, product palatability and microbiology.

Hunt is considered to be among the top five meat color experts in the world. His former graduate students hold prominent positions in government, industry and academia. He has been recognized by several organizations for contributions to research, teaching and advising.

And he’s a nice guy. Gracious when I spoke at the local Rotary a couple of years ago, and always willing to help with questions. Here’s Hunter speaking with me while tailgating before a Kansas State football game four years ago. And some key references.

Hunt, M.C., O. Sørheim, E. Slinde. Color and Heat Denaturation of Myoglobin Forms in Ground Beef. Journal of Food Science Volume 64 Issue 5 Page 847-851, September 1999.

Ryan, Suzanne M., Mark Seyfert, Melvin C. Hunt, Richard A. Mancini. Influence of Cooking Rate, Endpoint Temperature, Post-cook Hold Time, and Myoglobin Redox State on Internal Color Development of Cooked Ground Beef Patties. Journal of Food Science. Volume 71 Issue 3 Page C216-C221, April 2006

Seyfert, M., R.A. Mancini, M.C. Hunt. Internal Premature Browning in Cooked Ground Beef Patties from High-Oxygen Modified-Atmosphere Packaging. Journal of Food Science. Volume 69 Issue 9 Page C721-C725, December 2004