Meat Safety and Processing Research Unit

University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta
What the facility does

Food safety and quality research

Areas of expertise

MSPRU is a one-stop shop for food safety research. As part of the university’s Agri-Food Discovery Place, it is a biosafety containmentLevel 2 meat-processing facility that allows researchers to process meat with food-borne pathogens simulating industry conditions throughout the processing chain, including retail and consumer handling. In this state-of-the-art facility that simulates an industrial setting, researchers, the meat- and food-processing industry, equipment manufacturers, ingredient and processing aid suppliers and government are able to carry out food safety and quality research and validation projects. The labs are ideally suited to enable clients to conduct research with products that represent the entire processing spectrum under industry, retail and consumer handling conditions. Research can include development and application of novel technologies to inactivate or inhibit the growth of microbial pathogens to improve food safety. Research expertise includes the impact of the microbiome on storage life and quality of food.

Research services

Microbial challenge studies, Process and product validation, High-pressure processing, Shelf-life extension studies, Application of novel technologies, Process development, Pilot plant development, Safety and quality troubleshooting

Sectors of application
  • Agriculture, animal science and food
  • Policy and governance

Specialized lab



Cargill Meat Solutions Cold Processing Laboratory This temperature-controlled room is equipped with all types of processing equipment, including an emulsifier, an injector, a tumbler, a grinder, a slicer, a stuffer and a vertical cutter that serves as a bowl chopper, vacuum tumbler and bowl cooker.  


Glass VAS/VSM 40 Vertical Cutter


VAS mode for meat cutting, chopping and emulsifying. In this mode, the Glass can be used as a bowl chopper. VSM mode for meat massaging and tumbling. In this mode, the Glass can be used as a vacuum tumbler. The Glass can also be used to cook product within in the bowl using direct or indirect steam.


Holly Mini-Matic Ergonomic Mixer/Grinder


Features variable-speed control and two independent drive motors. The grinder has a 23-kilogram hopper capacity and can process up to 500 kilograms of unfrozen deboned meat per hour. Blending tumbler is reversible and has a variable-speed control for thorough mixing of hopper content. Holes in lid permit visual check of hopper status and allow spices and other ingredients to be added during blending.


Stephan VM 150 Meat Tumbler


This unit can mix, tumble and knead and is equipped with jacket cooling as well as a vacuum system for vacuum tumbling


Schroder Imax 350 Brine Injector


Needle sizes: 4mm, 3mm and 2mm

Passage height: 180mm

Brine pressure: 0.5 psi to 4.5 psi

The cycle of the brine injector and the brine pressure can be controlled by a nine-position cam switch.

Cargill Meat Solutions Thermal Processing Laboratory

Equipped with a smokehouse, a steam kettle, two high-pressure processors, a convection oven, a fryer, a range and a cooktop


Alkar 1000 Smokehouse


Product area: 183 cm high, 118 cm deep, 106 cm wide

Smoke available: liquid and hardwood smoke

The following processing steps can be performed: cook and smoke cook, liquid smoke, steam cook, cold shower and hot shower, tempered shower and evacuation.


Groen Kettle TDB-40


Capacity: 40 L

Fast heating, quickly browns meat and can be used to hold and serve directly from the kettle.

Key features: 50 psi maximum operating pressure rating, counterbalanced manual tilt, thermostatic control, reinforced bar rim and easy-pour lip


High-Pressure Multivessel U 111 Apparatus


Maximum pressure: 800 Mpa

Maximum temperature: 120°C

Minimum temperature: 0°C

Number of vessels: 4

Volume of vessels: 8 mL

Vessel diameter: 13mm

Pressure medium: propylene glycol


Dustec High-Pressure Plant


Maximum pressure: 1,000 Mpa

Maximum temperature: 120°C

Vessel volume: 0.3 L

Fitted with touch screen, allowing for easy programming of pressure/time sequences. Allowed values for time programming are 0 seconds to 30,240 minutes. Pressure/time loops can also be programmed.


Vulcan Single-Deck Electric Convection Oven

Temperature range:150°F to 500°F

Interior: 73.6 cm x 55.9 cm x 50.8 cm

Alberta Beef Producers Laboratory This laboratory is designed to test equipment  
Microbiology Laboratory This full-service microbiology laboratory has the capacity to support MSPRU projects.  


Agilent 1260 HPLC


Power range of 600 bar at 5 mL/min handles with ease 3.0mm and 4.6mm id columns with sub 2-micron particles; ability to form complex gradients or blend solvents online; can use up to four solvents for gradient composition at up to 600 bar; 10 mL/min flow rate for analytical work with 3.0mm and 4.6mm id columns, or even for semi-preparative applications; diode array detector with increased ultraviolet sensitivity by two- to ten-fold; RI detector capability


Beckman Coulter DU 730 Spectrophotometer


Ultraviolet and visible scanning-range wavelength of 190nm to 1100nm (3nm bandwidth); halogen-tungsten lamp produces light in the visible spectrum (320nm to 1100nm); deuterium lamp produces light in the ultraviolet spectrum (190nm to 360nm); digital readout capable of reporting absorbance or percent transmittance as well as various calculated units depending on preprogrammed modes; data recording system logs data based on user ID, date/time and user-selected sample ID


Eppendorf Mastercycler ® Thermal Cycler (PCR)


Increased speed, highest degree of precision, easy programming and absolute reliability united in a flexible concept; extremely fast heating and cooling speeds and unique heated-lid technology, which avoids the preheating of samples and minimizes unspecific annealing; SteadySlope® technology ensures that the heating and cooling ramp rates are identical in both gradient and normal operation


Mx4000® Multiplex Quantitative PCR System


Fully integrated real-time PCR-detection system; integrated state-of-the-art thermal cycle; quartz-tungsten halogen lamp to excite fluorescence; photomultiplier tubes for high-sensitivity detection; real-time quantitative detection software; open format allows closed-tube, real-time PCR detection with any real-time PCR-detection chemistry, including SYBR® Green I dye and fluorogenic probe systems; supports both real-time and plate-read experiments


Sub-Cell® Model 96 Agarose Gel Electrophoresis System


Effectively separates nucleic acids using submerged agarose gels; ideal for the separation of DNA restriction digestions, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplified fragments and genomic DNA and RNA prior to Southern or Northern blotting; can separate nucleic acids from 20 base pairs to 20 kilobase pairs in length


AlphaImager HP System


Features 1.4-megapixel camera with 12-bit A/D, motorized 8mm-to-48mm f1.2 zoom lens with +2-dioptre close-up lens; AlphaView image-analysis software, DE 500 light cabinet with white light table, EPI white lights, orange filter and ultraviolet transilluminator (ML-26); includes automatic image-capture software; suitable for ultraviolet gels, protein gels, autorad and colony plates, solid objects and TLC plates


Thermo Scientific NESLAB EX Heating Bath Circulator


Features powerful cooling and heating, expansive temperature ranges and sophisticated controller technology; these robust, compact units offer precise temperature stability and high reliability for external circulation and in-bath applications


Microzone BK2 Biological Safety Cabinets


Class II Type A2 Biological Safety Cabinet; front service access panel; large work volume with all coved stainless steel liner; removable stainless steel work tray with integral airfoil; ultraviolet light; duplex electrical outlet located inside work zone; modular control panel


Forma Scientific Anaerobic System


Lilydale Controlled Storage Laboratory

Includes three walk-in coolers, a walk-in freezer, a vacuum skin packager, a modified-atmosphere tray sealer, a chamber vacuum packager and a modified-atmosphere packager.

The coolers allow for storage studies at varying temperatures, are accurate to +/-0.5°C and can be adjusted to support any cold-storage study. The walk-in freezer is maintained at –18°C. A display unit is available to simulate retail storage conditions.

Fermentation Laboratory

Equipped with fermenters of various sizes to carry out fermentations using biomass to produce industrial fuels and chemicals