Post graduate exchange program with Padova University, Italy

An opportunity exists for a registered post graduate student in Meat Science to spend six months in Padova under the Erasmus + exchange program.
The start date will be 1 October 2018 till end of March 2019.
Alternatively, 1 February 2019 to end of July 2019.
The successful student will be working together with prof Dalle Zotte evaluating rabbit meat quality from an experiment where three breeds’ production and meat quality are evaluated at two environmental temperatures.
All interested students to submit a one page motivation on why they should be selected to Prof Hoffman by Thursday 7 June at 18:00.

SASAS Congress 2017

SASAS Congress 2017

We would like to apologise for the oversight and also congratulate Dr Felicitas Mukumbo on being awarded a Bronze medal in the research category at the recent SASAS congress. Dr Mukumbo received the medal in recognition of the high quality of her PhD thesis, which looked at the use of Moringa oleifera in pig feed. She is currently a Post-doctoral Fellow at the University of Fort Hare, Department of Livestock and Pasture Science.


SASAS Congress 2017

SASAS Congress 2017

This year’s annual SASAS Congress, held in Port Elizabeth from 18 to 21 September, was the 50th such event and focussed on the theme of Golden Innovations for Sustainable Animal Agriculture.

Left to right: Jackie Tucker (SASAS Northern branch chairlady), Daniel van der Merwe and SASAS President, Dr Michiel Scholtz

A number of important sub-themes were explored during the congress, such as the role of climate change and welfare and health in the livestock industry, and international academics from Uganda and the United States presented keynote talks. Local academics and members of industry presented further lectures on topics ranging from genomics to economics in agriculture. 

Left to right: Dr Michael MacNeil (SAJAS Sub-editor), Alretha van Heerden and Dr Michiel Scholtz

In addition to the main presentations, Animal Science students from around South Africa were also given the opportunity to share their research via either oral presentations or posters, and prizes for the best presentations and posters were awarded. A number of Stellenbosch University students were among the prize winners, with Daniel van der Merwe having the best student nutrition poster and Alretha van Heerden the best oral presentation.

At the closing ceremony, further recognition was given for achievements in the field of Animal Science, with Prof Kennedy Dzama, head of Stellenbosch University’s Department of Animal Sciences, being awarded a silver medal for exceptionally meritorious and original research in 2017. Retha Engels, currently a Masters student under the supervision of Prof Hoffman, was also presented with the SASAS Merit Award for her academic achievements during the final year of her BSc, as well as the SASAS Graduate Bursary for 2017.

Left to right: Alretha van Heerden, Daniel van der Merwe, Prof Kennedy Dzama and Retha Engels

Left to right: Retha Engels and SASAS Vice President Prof Este Van Marle-Koster




Opportunities in Italy

Opportunities in Italy

Postgraduate students now have the exciting opportunity to spend 6 months at the University of Padova in Italy as part of the Erasmus+ program, which facilitates collaboration and exchange between various universities around the world. Students are selected and nominated by their supervisor at the University of Stellenbosch, with the nomination deadline for Padova’s second semester being the 15th of September. However, in order to provide sufficient time for the finalisation of these nominations students are required to send their supervisors one-page motivations for why they should be nominated by the 8th of September at the latest.

More information on this opportunity can be found on the Erasmus+ Fact Sheet and the Erasmus+ Programme guidelines.


Karoo lamb in the spotlight

Karoo lamb in the spotlight

Doctor in demand Sarah Erasmus has once again demonstrated the relevance of scientific research to the public and industry in her recent interview on Grootplaas, a kykNET program. In this interview, Sarah discussed the research involved in characterising Karoo lamb meat and the plants responsible for its unique flavour profile, while Prof Johann Kirtsen went into more depth on the certification of Karoo meat of origin and the implications of this step.

Those interested can watch the full interview.


4th FoodIntegrity Conference

4th FoodIntegrity Conference

 Sarah Erasmus

On Sunday, 7 May, I left Stellenbosch to travel all the way to Italy to attend the 4th FoodIntegrity Conference, which took place in Parma from 10-11 May, 2017. As the host city, Parma could not have been more appropriate, given that it is well-known for its authentic food products such as Parma ham (Prosciutto di Parma) and Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano). The conference was integrated within the activities of the European Funded FoodIntegrity project and focussed on the latest research outputs on developments and strategies in the field of food integrity (i.e. safety, quality, authenticity and traceability).

I was selected as one of six inspiring young Food Integrity scientists to receive Young Researchers Awards on 10 May 2017, with the title of my oral presentation being Volatile fingerprinting using PTR-MS paves the way for South African lamb to acquire PGI status. I also presented a poster on the same topic and attended a workshop (good risk management requirements, trust in label claims and best practices).

It was an unforgettable academic and cultural experience; from networking with food integrity scientists and visiting the Barilla pasta plant to feasting on local foods and wine at the conference dinner, which was hosted by one of the most popular restaurants in town – the Corale Verdi. The restaurant is well-known for its traditional menu and has a strong connection with the town’s historical appreciation for music. Its name means “Verdi’s Choir” as it is also the seat of an actual choir; an esteemed musical institution founded in 1905 and renowned for its deep knowledge and love of Giuseppe Verdi’s works.




A valuable new resource has just become available to all researchers and students interested in Meat Science with the digitalisation of papers presented at the International Congress of Meat Science and Technology (ICoMST). Papers presented at the 1955 congress onwards are available for free download at

We would like to thank all those who contributed to making this possible, particularly ICoMST Contact Secretary, Prof Eero Puolanne.

Doctors in demand


Doctors in Demand

Academic research is sometimes thought to be dry, boring and of little relevance to the average man or woman on the street. However, the importance and value of good research has been keenly emphasized by the PhD projects of two recent graduates from the Department of Food Science of Stellenbosch University.

Sarah Erasmus and Maxine Jones, who completed their PhDs under the primary supervision of Professor Louw Hoffman, both focussed on topics of particular importance to the South African meat industry, with Maxine studying the process of biltong making and Sarah looking at what exactly makes Karoo lamb so special. Maxine’s work looked at the drying kinetics of meat from different species, the effects of processing factors on the shelf-life of beef biltong and the risk of yeast and mold growth during biltong storage. Sarah’s compared the sensory and chemical profiles of lamb meat from different regions of South Africa and the possible role of the vegetation in these areas in determining these differences, as well as looking at possible analytical tools for the authentication of Karoo lamb.

As both biltong and Karoo lamb are well known South African products, both studies have attracted considerably media attention, including news reports and live radio interviews. Links to some of these stories can be found below.

Mail and Guardian: Study paves the way for Karoo lamb to join the ranks of tequila, champagne and Kobe Researcher receives doctorate for work on Karoo lamb

Times Live: Meet Cape Town’s ‘Dr Biltong’

East Coast Radio: East Coast Breakfast chats to Dr. Biltong, Maxine Jones

Cape Talk: Meet the 27 year-old who has a doctorate in biltong making

Game meat guidelines published


Game meat guidelines published

The wildlife industry in Namibia has shown tremendous growth over the past decades and is currently the only extensive animal production system within the country that is expanding. Several factors are responsible for this dramatic increase in the distribution and number of game animals in Namibia, with the most important being regulatory changes that gave freehold landowners and communal conservancies a greater ability to profitably utilise wildlife.

Tourism, live sales, and trophy hunting have significantly contributed to the tremendous growth of the industry; however, they cannot alone sustain further growth. Harvesting wildlife for the purpose of meat production is a viable option as there is a demand for healthy and high-quality meat products to feed the ever-increasing world population. It is also predicted that Namibia will experience changes in climate in the near future, which will further necessitate the optimal management of wildlife populations. However, up to this point, there have been few official guidelines for the harvesting of game animals.

This lack of available information led to the writing of the Guidelines for the Harvesting and Processing of Wild Game in Namibia by Diana van Schalkwyk and Prof Louw Hoffman, with the intention of it being used by Namibian game farmers and game harvesting teams. Electronic copies of the book are freely available from the Stellenbosch University Library and Information Services website.

FoodMicro 2016


FoodMicro 2016

Safe food remains one of the biggest challenges the food industry faces on a daily basis. To keep ahead of these challenges new emerging technologies are developed worldwide each year. This was one of the main focus points of this year’s FoodMicro Conference that was held in Dublin, Ireland from the 19th – 22nd of July 2016. Zandré Germishuys, MSc student at the Department of Food Science, Stellenbosch University, had the privilege of attending the conference earlier this year. He was one of three South Africans to receive the International Committee on Food Microbiology and Hygiene (ICFMH) travel grant to attend the conference.

poster-presentationZandré also presented his MSc research at the conference in the form a poster entitled “Determining the microbial safety and shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli prevalence of South African game species”. This research was conducted in collaboration with the Department of Animal Sciences, Stellenbosch University.

Some of the main topics that were discussed at the conference included new genes and technologies for the detection of shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli and emerging pathogens that are antimicrobial resistant. Risk-analysis of foods, food microbiology and food biotechnology were also some of the topics that were discussed at FoodMicro.  Overall the conference was very enlightening on what is currently going on in the food industry regarding food safety.

During the course of the conference, Zandré also had the chance to network with some of the top researchers in the world regarding food microbiology and food safety. These included Professor James Lindsay from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Professor Christine Dodd, who is chair of food microbiology at the University of Nottingham, Dr Janet Corry from the Department of Clinical Veterinary Sciences at the University of Bristol as well as Professor Wilhelm Holzapfel from the School of Life Sciences at Handong Global University in South Korea.

For more photos from the conference and Zandré’s trip to Ireland please have a look at the gallery.