UT Institute of Agriculture students win national dairy/food science competitions


Credit: Photo courtesy UTIA.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – A group of students at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture are among the best in the nation when it comes to knowledge of consumer dairy products.

UTIA's Dairy Products Evaluation Team won first place at the 95th Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation contest, held in mid-April in Madison, Wisconsin. Two of the student contestants, Michael Luethke, from Knoxville, and Katie Magee of Buffalo, New York, won the top undergraduate and graduate student awards, respectively.

UTIA was tops among 14 participating teams, representing universities from across the country and one from France. It's the first time UTIA has won the top honor. Previously the team's highest finish was second place.

The students judged six types of products — milk, cottage cheese, vanilla ice cream, butter, cheddar cheese and yogurt — evaluating eight samples of each item. The samples were prejudged by industry officials and coach judges were assigned to each product type. The students with scores most closely matching those of the official judges were declared the winners. The top three students in each product category were recognized, along with the top 10 students in the All Product category.

The students are in UTIA's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR) and its Food Science Department. Michael Luethke, a junior, was named the overall winner, and also placed first in cottage cheese and second in the milk categories. Rand Clapp, also from Knoxville, finished fifth overall, and Kindal Tatum of Murfreesboro finished seventh. Other team members who served as alternates and made the trip were undergraduates Bailey Brown from Jackson, Michael Lawrence from Perry County, and Quint Gasque from Kingston.

Food science graduate student Katie Magee of Buffalo, New York, finished first in the graduate competition, placing first in cottage cheese, second in yogurt and third in cottage cheese.

The team was coached by Charles White, adjunct professor of food science. Trent Kerley, a senior in food science, served as an assistant coach.

"We can all be proud of the 2017 UTIA team," says White. "They worked hard, learned a lot and competed for four-and-a-half hours in a tough competition with the top teams in the country. Michael, Rand, Kindal and Katie are truly national champions."

Travel expenses were paid by the Wisconsin Cheesemakers Association and the Tennessee Dairy Products Association. In addition, the Department of Food Science received $500 for being the top team.

Through its mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. ag.tennessee.edu.


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