Stellenbosch student is the first to receive a doctorate for biltong-making research

Maxine Jones (27) from Cape Town received a unique honour this week by becoming the first person to graduate with a PhD for research focused on biltong production. Jones earned her doctorate in Food Science for her research on aspects of biltong processing, such as meat drying procedures.

She focused her studies on biltong when her interest and research in Meat Science revealed a lack of research into the local treat, despite the product’s popularity around the world. ‘’This, plus my love for biltong, seemed like the perfect fit,’’ she said.

Nicknamed ‘’Dr Biltong’’, Jones said it took some time to get used to the name. ‘’I feel honoured that I can be called Dr Biltong. With biltong being so popular it is a privilege to hold such a title,’’ she said with a laugh.

Maxine Jones from Stellenbosch University is the first person to receive a doctorate for research in biltong making. PHOTO: Drik Witbooi

Through her research, Jones has advocated a standardised procedure for biltong making. This doesn’t refer to spicing and flavor which are personal preferences, but rather to the process itself, to minimize inconsistency between products and ensure the safety of the product for consumers, which she says could increase export possibilities.

Jones is the quality and food safety manager for Cape Deli Biltong in Cape Town, but in the future she wants to explore a surprisingly different sector of the food industry: confectionery. ‘’It is so far off from meat but it is another passion of mine I would love to learn more about. As I love research I would like to be involved in research and development.’’

Extensive research into biltong has not dulled her love for the snack though. ‘’I absolutely love biltong. I think after the years of studying it, if I haven’t gotten sick of it yet, I most probably never will!’’ – Tegan Mouton