ISU's dairy products evaluation team lands runner-up honors at international competition

AMES, Iowa - Iowa State University's Dairy Products Evaluation Team earned a second place finish in the overall category and a first place in the yogurt category at the annual collegiate dairy products evaluation competition held this year in Decatur, Ill.

The team also scored a second place in the Cheddar cheese and third in the cottage cheese categories.

In individual awards, Gerui Li, a senior in food science from Shenzhen, China, took first place in the yogurt category, second place overall and a third in Cheddar cheese.

Lumeng Jin, a junior in food science from Tianjin, China, took a second in Cheddar cheese and placed seventh overall.

ISU's second-place finish in the 10-team competition is an improvement over the fourth-place finish a year ago.

The competition is a chance for dairy industry students to show how well they can identify quality dairy products and recognize defects in six categories -- yogurt, cottage cheese, Cheddar cheese, butter, ice cream and milk.

The overall team competition was won by South Dakota State, Brookings, for the second consecutive year.

While this is only Iowa State's second year at the competition after not having a team for several decades, Li said they had an advantage.

"We are very lucky to have Dr. Stephanie Clark as our coach," said Li. "She has been doing this for a long time, and she gets us well prepared."

While he felt prepared, when Li listened to the results in the overall category, which are announced in reverse order, he didn't think he had a chance and was hoping to hear his name early.

"I was hoping to have my name read at fifth, maybe fourth," he said. "By the time they got to third, I thought I was out."

When he heard his name at number two, Li was elated. He said winning made for a short trip back to Ames.

"The trip back here went a lot faster and was more fun than the trip there," he said.

Team members also included Siyu Qian, junior in food science from Dalian, China; Martin Mutambuka, doctoral student in food science from Uganda, and Pradeep Suriya Narayanan, a master's student in food science from Chennai, India.

Three members of last year's team practiced with the team but didn't make the trip to Illinois -- Babu Chinnasamy, doctoral student in food science from Salem State, India; Jennifer Halstead, senior in animal science from West Union; and Josh Carter, senior in food science from Carroll. Carter was honored with the Joe Larson Merit Award for industry leadership potential and understanding the value of dairy porducts evaluation.