“We know we have a great story to share with consumers about the health benefits of beef, but we must have the facts to back up our claims,” said Gackle-area cattleman Jeff Dahl, chairman of the North Dakota Beef Commission (NDBC). “Research is key to our ability to increase demand and profitability, and why I am proud that the NDBC has invested in it.”
Commissioners allocated checkoff funds to nine different research studies from a field of 23 proposals received. Five of the research projects examine health-benefits of beef consumption, while four look at methods to improve beef’s value in the marketplace and enhance customer satisfaction.
Supported human nutrition projects include:
- A study at NDSU to evaluate the association between dietary protein intake (beef specifically) and muscle and bone quality among females across the lifespan; and how the amount of physical activity impacts this relationship. Proposed by Dr. Sherri Stastny, the study builds upon work previously funded by the NDBC, the National Beef Checkoff and the Minnesota Beef Council;
- Research conducted by Dr. Kimberly Vonnahme at NDSU to investigate if replacing carbohydrates (sugar) with beef in prenatal diets could have a positive impact on childhood obesity and heart disease;
- A study to determine if replacing carbohydrates (sugar) with beef in maternal diets will increase secondary muscle fiber development in offspring, which has been shown to reduce the chances of obesity and heart disease, conducted by Dr. Eric Berg and Ph. D. student Megan Nelson at NDSU;
- A study to determine whether replacing sugar with beef in prenatal diets has any effect on bone density and bone health, by NDSU’s Dr. Berg; and
- Research at Purdue University with Dr. Wayne W. Campbell that explores how consuming beef positively influences the gut microbiome of young adults. The study will investigate whether consuming a healthy diet with red meat – beef – will improve gastro-intestinal health more than a diet without meat.
Product quality and safety projects selected for funding by the NDBC include:
- A study by NDSU’s Dr. Robert Maddock who will investigate if carcass size and weight, and potentially differences in cut size and weight, have an impact on beef quality, which could ultimately affect consumer demand for beef.
- Research to determine how the inclusion of beta-agonists in beef production might affect tenderness. The research, by Dr. Kasey Carlin at NDSU, examines the cellular mechanisms involved and builds on previous research funded nationally with beef checkoff dollars that Carlin has conducted;
- Research of a novel microbiological intervention that can be applied to ground beef, furthering the body of evidence surrounding reducing bacteria in ground beef, conducted by Dr. Birgit M. Pruess at NDSU. Pruess will also assess consumer acceptance of the product involved; and
- A study at NDSU with Dr. Berg and Dr. Xin Sun to investigate if oleic acid can be quantified by on-line image analysis. Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid associated with many positive health benefits. It is abundant in high-quality beef, and has been associated with outstanding beef flavor.
Research has always been central to the beef checkoff, and important to beef producers in North Dakota. As the result of North Dakota’s $1-per-head state checkoff, initiated August 1, 2015, this is the first time the NDBC has developed and initiated a formal Request For Proposal (RFP) process for research proposals and funding.