Meet the Meat Scientist

Aug 30, 2019

The world of meat science is built from scientists. The American Meat Science Association would like to take an opportunity to showcase individuals who help our industry succeed. A new project for AMSA’s consumer website, “The Meat We Eat”, involves getting to know these people. This week’s “Meet the Meat Scientist” is Paul Clayton.


Paul Clayton was involved in 4H livestock projects all through his youth. He decided to purse an education and career within the livestock and meat industry. During his time as an undergraduate student he was on the meat and livestock judging teams. He also worked in the Meat Lab at Colorado State University, which he states truly helped pique his interest. Mr. Clayton has over 40 years of experience in the meat industry, working mostly in Food Safety and Quality Assurance and production Research and Development. He has an extensive background in the industry, including a position as a research reviewer for NCBA including Food Safety and Beef Quality and part of their Beef Innovations Group, as well serving on the Pork New Products Task Force for the National Pork Board. He has given guest lectures at several animal and meat science classes and numerous presentations on various animal/meat science topics at the local, state, national, and international level for meetings and conferences.

Getting to Know Paul Clayton:

What is your experience in the meat industry?

Paul Clayton has over 40 years of experience in the meat industry. Over that time, he has worked with international technical trade issues, including those problems solving market access issues for exporters, and seeking access to new markets. He earned his bachelor’s degree in animal science and his masters in Beef Production, both from Colorado State University. After finishing school, he held many different head positions in Food Safety and Quality Assurance (FSQA) and Research and Development, including head positions with Monfort/ConAgra Beef, Pork, and Lamb, SSI/Simplot Processed Meats, and Seaboard Foods, which is his newest position. Previously, Paul was the head of export service for U.S. Meat Export Federation.

Why is meat science important to you?

According to Paul, “It is a vital component of the meat industry. Without an understanding of meat science, product manufacturing would not be efficient, consumers would not experience the quality attributes of meat, and the there could be higher food safety risks for consumers.” Additionally, he adds, “the resources for meat science in the U.S. are outstanding. These resources are not readily utilized in other parts of the world. Meat science helps the meat industry advance with new technologies and defining attributes valuable and vital to consumers.”

What do you enjoy most about the meat industry?

To Paul Clayton, the most enjoyable part of the meat industry is being part of a very dynamic and interesting industry. He says, “it is very satisfying to be part of an industry providing an essential component for humans.” He also enjoys learning new technologies and research results.

What is some advice you have for students looking to get involved in meat science?

“Get meat plant experience. It is invaluable at any level of the meat science world because you learn how the products are made and the nuances and issues that can occur with meat quality, food safety, specifications, plant efficiencies, live animal issues, etc. Also, remain nimble and flexible. You never know when new opportunities may impact you. Be resourceful and build a strong network to help you in meat science, business applications, engineering, and industry issues. Finally, be dedicated. Success in the meat industry is based on longevity and advancements within a company. Frequently jumping from one company to another will reduce the likelihood for advancement and knowledge enrichment.” 

Paul Clayton is truly a pioneer in the field. Thank you, Paul Clayton, for your contribution to the meat industry. It is because of leaders in the industry that we are able to continue growing and succeeding for years and years to come. 

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