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By-products into black pudding: Morgan Metcalfe's research into food sustainability

Posted 20 May

Morgan holding his completed HRP

Black pudding may not necessarily be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the importance of food technology and greater food sustainability, but innovative research by a Harper Adams University student has combined all three into a project which also reduces waste by using by-products with little or no value.

Morgan Metcalfe, 22, is in his fourth year studying BSc (Hons) Food Technology and Product Development, and is currently taking his exams with a view to returning to Harper Adams University in September to undertake a Master’s degree.

He lives at Llanrwst in Snowdonia where his family have a successful butcher’s business and it was this, along with his third year placement at Dalehead Foods in Cambridgeshire - a pork processing factory which supplies Waitrose - that provided the inspiration for his Honours Research Project (HRP).

Morgan said: “There was much talk about greater food sustainability and how technology can reduce waste, so I came up with the idea of using by-products from two different industries to make black pudding.

“My study involved brewer’s spent grain which, at the moment, is only used in animal feed and by using blood from the pork processing industry. I wanted to answer if this grain is a viable option to replace oats in black pudding - upcycling and adding value to by-products which have little or no value.”

In undertaking his research, Morgan discovered that there was no research like this for the meat industry. He explained: “The only research I could find centred on bakeries and bread – making it an exciting new topic, way ahead of its time and something I’m sure will grow much bigger in the future.”

Another focus for Morgan was the entrepreneurial perspective, as he worked with a local brewery and the family butcher’s at home. Morgan recounted his research, saying: “The trials went well, using technology and science to get the characteristics and flavour of beer into black pudding. I experimented with the amount of spent grain used and found that replacing 50 per cent of oats was ideal. I also looked at particle fineness, was happy with the products as there wasn’t much change to the texture.

“Varying products were presented to a panel at Harper Adams who stated their preferences. It was found that adding more than 50 per cent of spent grain resulted in loads of different effects but 50 per cent was just right – the ideal cut-off point. It was also more viable financially and was high in fibre, making it of exceptional nutritional value.

“The aim was to see it in the butcher’s shop and to go through general public trials, but the present pandemic has delayed that. Up to now, it has only gone before a panel at Harper Adams so it would be nice to have a broader opinion. I’m sure it will go ahead - it has definite advantages.”

On the topic of food security, Morgan commented: “Sustainability is a huge trend within the food industry. People are working hard to be greener so using by-products in this way is really something to shout about.

“Food science and technology is so important to the food industry to produce a safe abundance of food supply. It also includes food security, food choice and the need to meet population demand.”

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