||Technology in Australia 1788-1988
Table of Contents
I Technology Transported; 1788-1840
II Technology Established; 1840-1940
i Meat Preserving: Heat Processing Introduced
ii Horticultural Products: Heat, Sugar and Solar Drying
iii Refrigeration and the Export of Meat
iv Milling and Baking
v Dairy Products
vii Sugar: Supplying an Ingredient
III The Coming Of Science
IV From Science To Technology: The Post-war Years
V Products And Processes
Refrigeration and the Export of Meat  (continued)In 1932 work at Cambridge showed that the storage life of chilled beef could be doubled by increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of the refrigeration chamber. This was taken up by a CSIR group, led by J. R. Vickery, which became the first to develop the idea commercially. In fact, a shipment organized by F J. Walker Ltd., left Sydney in 1933 but was only partially successful. The first CSIR shipment was that in Idomeneus from Brisbane in February 1934. By this time pre-storage, biochemical and microbiological factors had been identified and the storage life of the shipment was predicted to within three days. Detailed scientific work had succeeded where empiricism had given only partial answers and CSIR staff was kept busy helping meat works prepare for the chilled meat trade, which rose rapidly to 29000 tons by 1937-8. Only a few shipments of chilled meat were made after the war. The cost of fitting up gas-tight chambers was high and frozen meat was then preferred because of its very much better keeping quality.
Many improvements were made in the meat industry in the period 1932-70. The CSIR group identified and corrected the causes of microbial contamination and gained the co-operation of abattoir staffs and meat workers in greatly reducing it. In 1949 the CSIRO* Meat Research Laboratory, the Low Temperature Research Station at Cambridge and the New Zealand DSIR combined for joint studies on pre- and post-mortem. effects on the quality (including the amount of drip) of frozen and thawed beef. Most of the work was done in Brisbane and the results were scientific rather than technological, especially in relation to the effect of pre- and post-slaughter factors on meat quality. Advances were made in the understanding and control of freezer-burn, in rapid chilling without excessive weight losses, and in the electrical stimulation of carcases during dressing to reduce toughness. During the Second World War a lot of meat was boned before shipment to save space. It was packed in cartons and frozen but the technique lapsed until 1957, when it was re-examined. It was revived with the help of plastic wrapping, a barrier to carbon dioxide and water vapour, vacuum packing, and the design by the refrigeration industry of more efficient blast freezers. High tonnages of beef and mutton are now exported in this manner, but other advances at that time included the introduction from abroad of the mechanical removal of hides which increased through-put and reduced damage to both hides and carcases. In addition, exports to the United States led to demands for major improvements in buildings, equipment and handling to reduce Salmonella contamination.
* In 1949, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) became the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO).
Other local applications of refrigeration, notably in brewing, in the transport of food, and in the dairy industry have already been mentioned. In 1867 Nicolle developed a domestic 'refrigerator' which was essentially an ice box, and in the seventies, Mort and Nicolle marketed a small household refrigerator based on the heat of solution of solutes. At least by the mid 1890s refrigeration had been applied to the retail meat business.
The export of apples from Tasmania to England began in 1884 and the first refrigerated shipment was from Melbourne in 1888. From 1905-14, the Victorian Department of Agriculture built five cool stores in the growing areas near Melbourne and within a few years other States followed this lead. The study of fruit storage began overseas after the First World War and the first facilities for such work in Australia were set up by the Victorian Department of Agriculture at Victoria Dock in 1927. Other Departments of Agriculture also became involved and CSIR began in the 1930s to carry out preliminary studies on various fruits with particular reference to the prevention of storage defects. Fundamental work on plant physiology began only after the Second World War.
Organisations in Australian Science at Work - CSIRO; CSIRO Meat Research Laboratory; F. J. Walker Group; Victoria. Government Departments
People in Bright Sparcs - Mort, T. S.; Nicolle, Eugene Dominique; Vickery, J. R.
© 1988 Print Edition pages 94 - 95, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher