Research Spotlight: Justice Dorleku
Justice Dorleku, an M.Sc. candidate in the Department of Food Science, is helping a major Ontario pork packing plant improve technology integration in the pork processing industry.
Justice is the recipient of the 2021 Percy Gitelman Memorial Scholarship, which aims to promote quality education and development for Meat Science research in Canada.
Originally from Ghana, Justice graduated in 2017 with a B.Sc. (Agriculture) specializing in Animal Science from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology.
“Agriculture is the backbone of our economy back home,” shares Justice. “During my final year, I noticed most of my colleagues were going into other branches of Animal Science. I wanted to be unique and do something different, since Meat Science is not big in Ghana.” He wanted to challenge himself with something new. He had never done anything related to carcass grading before, so he decided to specialize in Meat Science, focusing on pork.
“My research is mainly about the comparison of multiple techniques that are used for determining saleable lean meat yield in pork carcasses. One of the main objectives is to investigate the accuracy of ultrasound technology (AutoFom III) that scans the entire carcass and uses thousands of measurements to predict saleable lean meat yield in pork carcasses. The AutoFom III technology is being compared to saleable lean meat yield determined via: 1) an electronic grading probe currently used in pork packing plants to measure loin fat and muscle depths at one site on the carcass or 2) a time consuming manual cut-out where a carcass side is dissected into lean, fat, and bone components, a process that is limited to research facilities such as the University of Guelph Meat Laboratory. The project is in collaboration with Ontario Pork and one of the leading pork packing plants in Ontario.”
Justice explains that an electronic grading probe is currently used in many packing plants for measuring fat and muscle depths to predict carcass lean yield. This information is then used to determine how much producers are paid for each pig with greater returns for leaner carcasses.
Under the direction of Dr. Ira Mandell (Department of Animal Biosciences) and Dr. Ben Bohrer (Department of Food Science), the team is working to test the ultrasound technology at one of Ontario’s largest meat processing plants.
“This research will first determine if the advanced ultrasonic image analyzer accurately predicts saleable lean meat yield compared to the current grading method,” says Justice.
He further explains that, the ultrasound technology will provide the opportunity to add value to pork primal cuts when there is no grading system in place that assesses carcass quality beyond lean yield determined from only measuring fat and muscle depths at one site on the carcass.
“Our study will see if we can prove that this new technology is better than what we have been doing. In general, the findings from the research may help reduce carcass variability and increase financial benefits for producers, processors, wholesalers, and retailers in the Canadian pork industry,” says Justice. "The pork industry will be able to examine the benefits of carcass information feedback from processing facilities to help producers make decisions on pig management and marketing to benefit the entire Canadian pork industry."
Justice is looking forward to continuing research in this area and has accepted a Ph.D. opportunity at the Department of Animal Sciences at The Ohio State University.
“I will pursue this research further in my Ph.D., and I am hoping to find a career opportunity here in North America, but no one can tell what the future holds. My dream is to work in research and development in the meat industry.”
Justice is grateful for the opportunity he had to not only work in the lab but also in the industry, which was one of his most important reasons to pursue the master’s degree.
“I am grateful and thankful to U of G; I have enjoyed every bit of it. I came here because U of G is one of the best in agricultural studies, shares Justice. “Research here is always top-notch. They have given me the opportunity in terms of theory but also with the practical.”