Michigan State University Dept of Food Science and Human Nutrition
Next we headed to Michigan State University's Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at East Lansing, which has worked with many of the companies featured in our gallery, and is home to 36 faculty, 45 graduate students and more than 650 undergraduate students.
Highlights of our tour included a visit to the cereal milling and product lab, the dairy lab and the meat lab, where students get to manufacture ice cream, cheese, ham, bacon and sausages, among other things.
The cereals lab
Our guide for the cereals lab was Perry K.W. Ng, PhD, professor of cereal science, who says a lot of companies are using its pilot facilities to test new formulations, see how processes such as extrusion or baking affect nutraceutical compounds, or use the chemistry lab to analyze the protein or starch content of grains.
They are also experimenting with new gluten-free grains, which can raise new processing challenges, he says.
The dairy lab
Next we hit the dairy lab with associate professor John Partridge PhD, who has students working on everything from artisan cheese, to what’s new in Greek yogurt, probiotics, edible films using whey proteins, novel soy- and almond-based products, and why milk from grass-fed cows has different sensory properties than milk from their TMR-fed (Total mixed ration) counterparts.
The meat lab
Finally, meat lab manager Jennifer Dominguez showed us around the USDA-inspected teaching, research and outreach facility, which is jointly managed by the Department of Animal Science and the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition.
Here, students learn about red meat and poultry slaughter and subsequent processing, including curing, cooking, chilling, cutting and further processing.
The facility also contains classrooms, a sausage kitchen, refrigerated curing rooms, smokehouses capable of natural and liquid smoke applications, three research labs and support facilities dedicated to understanding meat chemistry, muscle growth, meat quality and meat microbiology.