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Meat Science Graduate Students Excel at National Competition

Posted: July 24, 2018

Had winning entry in fermented summer sausage class and third in specialty class at American Cured Meat Championship (ACMC) competition.
Dave Weaver, left, assistant manager of the Penn State Meat Laboratory, and Josh Cassar, graduate student, hold the trophies they won at the American Cured Meat Championship in Kansas City.

Dave Weaver, left, assistant manager of the Penn State Meat Laboratory, and Josh Cassar, graduate student, hold the trophies they won at the American Cured Meat Championship in Kansas City.

Graduate students in Penn State's Department of Animal Science took first place in the 2018 University Class competition at the American Cured Meat Championship (ACMC) competition held July 19-22 in conjunction with the 79th annual American Association of Meat Processors convention in Kansas City, MO. Students Josh Cassar and Sam Watson represented Penn State in the competition.

Cassar placed first in the fermented summer sausage class and third in the specialty class with his entry of a Cold Smoked Calabrese Salami snack stick. Watson entered an Orange Amarillo Hop Salami. Penn State also won the overall combined score which provides the winning institution with an engraved traveling trophy.

The ACMC competition is a venue where meat processors from across the United States have their products evaluated and scored for a variety of sensory attributes. This year over 600 members representing 160 meat processing establishments attended, and 70 members entered 680 products for judging in 29 separate meat product categories.

To expand learning opportunities for students, Penn State Extension Meat Specialist Jonathan Campbell, Ph.D., initiated the University Class competition four years ago for both undergraduate and graduate student teams to compete against other meat science programs from around the country.

Dr. Terry Etherton, Head of the Department of Animal Science, said, "This national recognition is a wonderful honor for these students, as well as for Penn State. It is an important affirmation of the value and quality of our meat science program. In addition to congratulating the students I would like to thank the faculty and staff who prepared them so well."

Campbell noted, "Students entering this competition gain valuable knowledge about meat processing through their interactions with meat processors, faculty and fellow students from all over the U.S. The creation of the "University Class" provides students with an opportunity to create new or innovative meat products to be evaluated by the same standards and guidelines by which other products entered in the ACMC are measured." It takes several months to develop the products.

Campbell credits the Penn State Meat Laboratory's Glenn Myers, Manager and Dave Weaver, Assistant Manager, for providing these students with the opportunity and environment conducive to the successful development of these award-winning meat products.

This year's academic competition had two separate product categories in which students could compete: fermented summer sausage and cured specialty meat produces (e.g. salami, prosciutto, flavored bacon, etc.).

Fifteen products were entered by students from Penn State, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Minnesota.

Judges for the competition included academics, industry representatives and commercial meat processors.