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MSU students excel in dairy judging contests
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi State University students proved again this year in two competitions that they are among the best in the country at determining the quality of dairy products.
Five MSU students competed in a group of 60 students in October at the National Dairy Products Evaluation Contest in Las Vegas. The team placed fifth among the 20 teams, and graduate student Robert Anderson finished second in overall product rankings.
Competition tests their taste buds against the official judges’ decisions about the flavor and texture of six different dairy products. Students judged eight different samples each of milk, cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, strawberry yogurt, butter and vanilla ice cream. The student with the score closest to the official judges’ score won in that category.
“These competitions are wonderful experiences that give them an added edge in their employment opportunities once they graduate,” said Benji Mikel, director of MSU’s Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion. “They learn some great skills that they can apply throughout the food industry.
“We’re extremely proud that we have a history of placing students very easily in the industry because of their interactions at competition,” he said.
Undergraduate students Tony Garcia, Myricle McKibbins, Zane Popwell and team alternate Amanda Thompson joined graduate student Anderson at the national contest. All three undergraduate team members placed in the top one-third in the individual overall ranking.
Anderson placed second in cottage cheese and had the best score in yogurt of all students.
In September, six students competed at the Midwest Dairy Products Judging Contest in Chicago. This team was McKibbens, Rodriquez Tate and Thompson, with Popwell and Antonio Garcia as alternates. Anderson competed in the graduate student portion of the competition.
Tate received second place for butter judging, and the team placed second overall of the nine teams in competition. Anderson placed first in ice cream and yogurt in the graduate category and was second overall in the all-products division.