Beef 2024 Report

MSA stalwart honoured for selfless 25 year contribution

Jon Condon, 07/05/2024

ONE of the Australian meat industry’s unsung heroes has been honoured for her 25-year indelible contribution to the progress of the world-leading Meat Standards Australia grading program.

MSA’s Research, Development & Integrity manager Janine Lau has been the ‘gold standard’ against which all other MSA graders have been benchmarked over more than two decades.

She has been an integral part of MSA research and pathways development since the program’s inception.

In a fitting setting, Janine was saluted by her peers and industry colleagues during the Beef 2024 National Carcase Competition awards dinner held in Rockhampton this evening.

Congratulating Janine Lau on her award during tonight’s National Beef Carcase Competition dinner at part of Beef 2024 were Michelle Barnard, wife of the late Rob Barnard, JBS CQ livestock manager, and competition chairman David Hill.

Originally off a family farm in southeast Queensland, Janine continues to run cattle with her husband on a property near Gatton. She got her first taste of the meat industry working on the kill floor at NH Foods Oakey abattoir on the Darling Downs, acting as traceability clerk, and later in the boning room.

She had recent completed Ag College studies at Emerald, and simply “needed a job to pay the bills.”

Enjoying the meat processing environment, she applied for, and got a job with the fledgling Meat Standards Australia program, starting 26 April, 1999. With a nice sense of symmetry, it meant that last week represented Janine’s 25 years of service in MSA grading.

“What other work could I have possibly done that could allow me to contribute to a program that has had so much influence on industry progress,” she said.

Along the way, Janine has graded more than 80,000 beef carcases for MSA research projects, including the latest work supporting objective carcase measurement devices. Included have been the past four National Beef Carcase competitions, like the one celebrated tonight.

Colleagues pay tribute

Friends and work colleagues, past and present, lined up to pay tribute to her tireless work in progressing the science of MSA over the years.

Former MLA managing director Jason Strong originally employed Janine to the fledgling Meat Standards Australia program, while he was operating as MSA program manager.

“Janine was in one of the earliest intakes of recruits for MSA grading roles, and stood out from the outset during grading training,” Mr Strong recalled.

Reasonably early in her MSA career, she extended beyond simple commercial grading carcases for MSA compliance for processors (then carried out independently, rather than in-house), to working in the many research and development trials that have led to the program being broadened, and widened.

“She became a key member of the data gathering and validation team, pivotal to the success that MSA has become over the years,” Mr Strong said. “She’s been an integral part of the red meat sector for a very long time.”

Behind the scenes

Michael Crowley, soon to take up his new role as managing director of MLA, also worked with Janine for some years while he was MSA’s general manager.

“She was already well established when I started in 2009, and we worked together for lengthy period,” Mr Crowley said.

“Ever since she joined the company, she’s been doing the carcase grading for all the MSA R&D work. She has run countless projects looking into pathways and index work – and not just here in Australia, but overseas in places like Ireland, Korea, France, Poland, the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan.

“Janine has always been ‘behind the scenes’ – and perhaps happy to be so – but she is one of the most dedicated, hard-working people you’ll ever meet. She is passionate about the MSA cause, and her extraordinary attention to detail is one of her special attributes. There are enormous amounts of statistics generated in a MSA research project, and she just laps it up,” Mr Crowley said.

“Along the way she has developed excellent relationships and trust right throughout the supply chain, working in virtually every significant abattoir in the country,” he said.

MSA pathways committee chair and eating quality research veteran Rod Polkinghorne has worked alongside Janine for well-over 20 years.

“She has been steadfast in her view that a standard is a standard, and the rules around MSA absolutely cannot be bent,” Mr Polkinghorne said.

“If there was an important MSA trial to be done to progress the program, she was always the one to get it done,” he said. “No hesitation – she’d be in the chillers on weekends or at one or two o’clock in the morning to gather the data. The industry and the program are absolutely her passion – whether the trial be about impact on meat quality from road/rail transport or different packaging impacts on tenderness,” he said.

“Virtually every bit of MSA R&D that’s been done has her fingerprints on it, somewhere. The success of the program is in no small way due to her tireless input,” Mr Polkinghorne said.

“Along the way there was some pressure applied to abandon key principles in areas like saleyard pathways, but Janine always stood her ground and let the results speak for themselves – sometimes at the risk of her own job.”

 

 

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Comments

  1. Jonty Hemmingway, 20/05/2024

    Congratulations Janine.
    The industry is very fortunate to have someone like you and I am especially appreciative of the knowledge you have shared with me over the years.

  2. Liz Pearson, 13/05/2024

    Congratulations Janine. It was fantastic to see your dedication, commitment and integrity recognised and celebrated at Beef 2024. You are a trusted source of knowledge for MSA and all things beef and I appreciate all the help you have sent my way.

  3. Cameron Dart, 13/05/2024

    Congratulations Janine. We don’t often celebrate the contribution people have made to industry and you have certainly done that without any fanfare or fuss. Very well deserved recognition for 25 years of service and I am sure you have another 10 in you.

  4. Laura Garland, 09/05/2024

    Congratulations Janine on your dedication and contribution to eating quality and the red meat industry! So deserved and hope you had a wonderful evening celebrating your achievement.

  5. Clara Bradford, 08/05/2024

    Congrats Janine, Incredible achievement and very well deserved, MSA and the industry are very lucky to have had your dedication and commitment to the program over the last 25 years!

  6. Terry farrell, 08/05/2024

    Congratulations Janine! Wonderful recognition for a true quiet achiever

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