Prof. Shai Barbut

Prof. Shai Barbut, Department of Food Science, spoke to Wired magazine about whether the COVID-19 pandemic will push meat packing facilities to adopt more automation.

Several outbreaks of the viral illness have occurred in packing facilities, where employees often work shoulder-to-shoulder.

Barbut noted that while poultry production has become more mechanized during recent decades, pork and beef processors are only catching up, a trend that he expects will increase.

“The coronavirus is going to accelerate the acceptance of slaughterhouse robots, especially in places like the U.S.,” he said.

Barbut studies primary and further processing of poultry and red meat. His research focuses on factors affecting meat quality and protein gelation with an emphasis on food safety.