Changes in the perceptions of students involved in a traditional meat science course
Many students have an interest in their food, but the idea of participating in or observing the slaughter and fabrication processes concerns them. However, the effect of participating in slaughter and fabrication on the perceptions of students taking a meat science course is relatively unknown. The objective of this study was to evaluate changes in student perceptions concerning fabrication and slaughter practices after participating in a traditional meat science course and laboratory. Students were surveyed at the beginning and end of the meat science course at SHSU. Survey questions centered on students’ perceptions of sanitation during slaughter and fabrication, US slaughter practices, and the students’ current and desired level of knowledge about food production. All questions were measured using a 15 cm line scale with the lowest numerical value representing the most negative perception and the greatest numerical value representing the most positive perception. Averages of the paired pre- and post-course surveys were analyzed using the TTest procedure in SAS. When asked how sanitary the processes of slaughter and fabrication were, the responses in the post-course survey were greater (P <0.01) for both questions. Results of the post-course survey indicated that students believed they were significantly more knowledgeable about the meat products that they consume compared to prior to taking the course. However, no differences (P = 0.29) were detected in the overall level of knowledge that students desired to gain about their food products. After taking the course, students had a more positive (P < 0.01) outlook toward slaughter practices in the U.S. When asked which in step of slaughter that beef cattle go from being an animal to a product, no differences (P = 0.52) were detected between the pre- and post-course surveys. These results indicate that involving students in slaughter and fabrication did not change students’ interest in the meat industry or their perceptions on when an animal becomes a product. However, it improved their overall perceptions of the meat industry and their overall level of knowledge leading us to the conclusion that participating in and observing slaughter and fabrication continues to be a valuable teaching instrument despite student concerns.
Meat Science, Fabrication, Slaughter