Professor Owen Young

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Academic Leader, Food Technology



  • B.Sc. (Hons) (Canterbury)
  • Ph.D. (La Trobe)
  • Grad. Dip. Marketing (Waikato)

Memberships and Affiliations:

Fellow of The New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology

Member of The Royal Society of New Zealand


After completing his PhD in plant biochemistry at La Trobe University in Melbourne in 1973, Owen Young undertook postdoctoral study in California and New Zealand before working for 25 years as a researcher in the meat industry.  He has now been at AUT for 10 years and has expanded his food interests beyond meat, although he still has connections and research projects in that industry.  The research focus to date at AUT has been in industry trouble solving for smaller New Zealand food companies, and on food product development. 

Teaching Areas:

Food Chemistry, Research Project Design

Research Summary:

While much of his research was applied to solving meat industry problems, he also was able to contribute to research on why meats have different eating qualities. He helped develop and understanding of which meat proteins are responsible for tenderising meat on storage, and, in chemical terms, why New Zealand lamb has a unique flavour.  He also invented a method, which is in commercial use in New Zealand to predict ultimate meat quality within 20 minutes of slaughter; at the same he championed the development of value-added meat products particularly of sheepmeat.

At AUT the involvement with the meat industry has continued with supervision of postgraduate research in topics as different as industrial cooking of meats, the role of heat shock proteins in meat tenderness, electrical stimulation of carcasses, colorimetric and near infrared methods to predict final meat pH, and evaluation of a prerigor packaging on tenderness.  Beyond the meat industry, the focus has been on industry problem solving for smaller New Zealand food companies, and on food product development.  The problem solving has been on topics as diverse as food allergen control in chicken processing, spirit still evaluation, development of gluten free products, elimination of bitterness in oat products, use of cyclodextrins to reduce goaty flavour in goat milk yoghurt, and applications of kiwifruit enzymes in human enteric health.  Most of these projects have been funded by government and companies supporting the students involved.  Another notable supervision has been on the culturing of high-fat native New Zealand eels for the Asian and European markets.  This last supervision is one of several where food product provenance has been a focus, notably the use of New Zealand native woods instead of oak to flavour wine and spirits, the development of a range of lactic fermented seafood products, and the recreation of a novel spirit from an iconic New Zealand plant.

Professor Young is the author or co-author of 80 refereed research papers, 40 confidential meat industry reports, one book, and nine book chapters. He was the co-editor of the international textbook, Meat Science and Applications (Marcel Dekker, New York).  About half his supervisions at AUT cannot be published, or are unsuitable for publication due to their nature, but nonetheless have contributed to meat industry developments.

Current Research Projects:

The food industry research focus described above continues, along with food product development with a particular focus on provenance. Provenance is important for food marketing, knowing that unique products from a particular geographic region command a price premium over generic equivalents.  This approach is being applied to a New Zealand-unique alcoholic spirit and to innovative fermented seafood products by a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate students.  Three other current projects are development of novel polymers from amaranth starch (a co-supervision with Plant and Food Research), comparison of two electrical stimulation systems for bovine carcasses (industry funded), and evaluation of a miniature dried food extruder (industry inspired).

Topics suitable for postgraduate study include:
  • Development of novel food and drink products from indigenous New Zealand species, with a particular emphasis on lactic and alcoholic fermentations.
  • Food industry problem solving.  The occurrence of these projects cannot be predicted but typically one or two emerge each year.  They are usually funded so the student is paid a stipend.


D. Lomiwes, M.M. Farouk, E. Wiklund, and O.A. Young (2014). Small heat shock proteins and their role in meat tenderness: A review.  Meat Science, 96, 26-40.

P.J. Watkins, D. Frank, T.K. Singh, O.A. Young, and R.D. Warner (2013).  The effect of diet on sheepmeat flavour: a review.  Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 61, 3561–3579.

D. Lomiwes, M.M. Farouk, G. Wu, and O.A. Young (2014).  The development of meat tenderness is likely to be compartmentalised by ultimate pH.  Meat Science, 96, 646-651.

J.A. Hirt-Chabbert, and O.A. Young (2012). Modification in body fat content and fatty acid profile of wild yellow shortfin eel, Anguilla australis, through short-term fattening.  Journal of the World Aquaculture Society 43(4), 477-489.

O.A. Young, T.L. Cummings and N.S. Binnie (2009). Effect of several sugars on consumer perception of cured sheepmeat. Journal of Food Science 74 (5), S198-S204.

X. Wang, O.A. Young, and D.P. Karl (2010). Evaluation of cleaning procedures for allergen control in a food industry environment.  Journal of Food Science 75(9):T149-T155.

O.A. Young, M. Kaushal, J.D. Robertson, H. Burns and S.J. Nunns (2010).  The use of species other than oak to flavor wine: an exploratory survey.  Journal of Food Science 75(9):S490-S498

O.A. Young, R.B. Gupta, and S. Sadooghy-Saraby (2012). Effects of cyclodextrins on the flavor of goat milk and its yogurt.  Journal of Food Science 77 (2) S122-S127.

O.A. Young, G.A. Lane, C. Podmore, K. Fraser, and M.P. Agnew, T.L. Cummings and N.R. Cox (2006). Changes in composition and quality characteristics of ovine meat and fat from castrates and rams aged to two years. New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research 49, 419-430.

O.A. Young, D.L. Hopkins and D.W. Pethick (2005). Critical control points for meat quality in the Australian sheepmeat supply chain. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 45, 593-601.

O.A. Young, S.X. Zhang, M.M. Farouk and C. Podmore (2005). Effects of pH adjustment with phosphates on attributes and functionalities of normal and high pH beef. Meat Science 70, 133-139.

S.X. Zhang, M.M. Farouk, O.A. Young, K.J. Wieliczko and C. Podmore (2005). Functional stability of frozen normal and high pH beef. Meat Science 69, 765-772.

J. Prescott, O.A. Young, S. Zhang and T.L. Cummings (2004). Effects of added "flavour principles" on liking and familiarity of a sheepmeat product: A comparison of Singaporean and New Zealand consumers. Food Quality and Preference 15, 187-194.

O.A Young, J. West, R.D. Thomson, V.G. Merhtens and M.P.F. Loeffen (2004). Industrial application to cattle of a method for the early determination of meat ultimate pH. Meat Science 67, 107-112.

O.A Young, J. West, A.L. Hart, and F.F.H. van Otterdijk (2004). A method for early determination of meat ultimate pH. Meat Science 66, 493-498.

J. Prescott, O.A. Young, L.M. O'Neill, N. J. N. Yau and R. Stevens (2002). Motives for food choice: a comparison of consumers from Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia and New Zealand. Food Quality and Preference 13, 489–495.

O.A. Young, D.W. Pethick, and I. Ross (2006). Improving lamb and sheepmeat eating quality (SMEQ). Publication Code 1740366700, Meat and Livestock Australia, North Sydney. ISBN 1740366700.