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K-State Today

June 15, 2012



Animal sciences and industry professor receives national award

By Michael Dikeman

Melvin C. Hunt, professor of animal sciences and industry, is the recipient of the 2012 R.C. Pollock Award from the American Meat Science Association.

The award is presented annually in honor of the first general manager of the National Livestock and Meat Board. Hunt will be honored at a special reception and awards presentation at the association's 65th Reciprocal Meat Conference on Tuesday, June 19, in Fargo, N.D.

Pollock was dedicated to the advancement of meat science and was the moving force in the establishment of the Reciprocal Meat Conference. The award, sponsored by the American Meat Science Association Educational Foundation, honors a dedicated association member whose work through teaching, extension, research or service represents an extraordinary and lasting contribution to the meat industry.

Thomas Powell, executive director of the association, said, “Dr. Hunt’s reputation as a preeminent meat color researchers is widespread throughout the world. 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 for a replacement for nitrite in cured meats.

Hunt has been a part of the animal sciences and industry faculty at Kansas State University since 1975. He has focused his research on postmortem meat quality with particular interest of factors affecting meat color and myoglobin chemistry. He has 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. He was the primary author of the Guidelines for Meat Color Measurement published by American Meat Science Association. This guide is the only comprehensive document on meat color measurement available to meat scientists. His students have clearly shown the advantages of using reflectance at 610 nm as an isobestic wavelength for direct determination of oxymyoglobin rather than using the traditional method of following the accumulation of metmyoglobin.

He has published widely on meat pigment chemistry, meat color, and packaging systems. In the last six years, Hunt has authored or co-authored 51 refereed journal articles. In addition, he has been an invited speaker at national and international conferences to discuss his research and is widely sought to answer industry's questions and problems. 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. He has served as president or chair of meat activities of three professional organizations: American Meat Science Association, American Society of Animal Science and the International Food Technologists..

As an American Meat Science Assocation member, Hunt has served president, past president and director of the board of directors; chair of the 1991 Reciprocal Meat Conference planning committee; and amember of chair for numerous association committees, including the Meat Color Guidelines, Teaching Award and Undergraduate Travel award to name a few. Additionally, he has been a regular participant at the annual ICoMST meeting and currently serves as the U.S. contact person.

Others have also recognized Hunt’s contributions to the meat industry. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the American Meat Science Association Signal Service and Distinguished Teaching awards; North American Meat Processors' Rudnick Educator’s Award, American Society of Animal Science Meat Research Award and the CASE Professor of the Year and Distinguished Faculty Award.

The American Meat Science Association fosters community and professional development among individuals who create and apply science to efficiently provide safe and high quality meat defined as red meat, beef, pork and lamb; poultry; fish/seafood; and meat from other managed species.