American Meat Science Association’s annual event, the Reciprocal Meat Conference, took place in Kansas City, Mo. on June 24th – 27th. The 71st Reciprocal Meat Conference is a place for students to get involved and network with each other and professionals in the industry, and this year was no different! From judging processed meat, to smoking turkey breasts with Kansas City barbecue pit masters and presenting the research everyone has worked so hard on for the past year, we have so much to be proud of with our students. 

The 3rd Annual Processed Meat Judging Contest was held at this year’s RMC, kicking off the conference on Friday, June 22nd. The Processed Meat Judging contest featured undergraduate and graduate divisions that included 99 participants this year. Each contestant had to place classes of a variety of processed meat products such as sliced bacon and ham, identify processed meat defects, and identify processed retail cuts. This year’s contest was sponsored by Food Safety Net Services and JBS USA, along with product donations by Hormel Foods, Kraft Heinz Company, Tyson Foods Inc., and UltraSource LLC. 

In the graduate division, Colorado State University’s team, which included Hannah Kesterson, Joanna Swenson, and Blake Foraker, took the title of first place. Texas Tech University pulled a second-place finish with a team consisting of Sean Morrow, Clay Bendele, and Cesar Sepulveda. Placing high individuals in this division were the following: 5th place Clay Bendele (Texas Tech University), 4th place Joanna Swenson (Colorado State University), 3rd place Sean Morrow (Texas Tech University), 2nd place Hannah Kesterson (Colorado State University) and high individual went to Melissa Davis (Purdue University).

In the undergraduate division, Iowa State University took the top spot with a team made up of Taylor Wulf, Beth Zuber, Austin Egolf, and Zack Peppmeier. Iowa State was followed closely by Colorado State University, placing second with team members Jenna Frink, Conrad Schelkopf, Savannah Millburn, and Sam Barker. The high individuals in the undergraduate division were 5th place Beth Zuber (Iowa State University), 4th place Taylor Wulf (Iowa State University), 3rd place Jenna Frink (Colorado State University), 2nd place Thachary Mayer (Texas Tech University), and high individual went to Jacob Tuell (Purdue University).

On Saturday, June 23rd, the Iron Chef Competition was a memorable and educational experience for over 120 students from 19 universities. Participants had the opportunity to network with other university students and professionals, gain useful knowledge from experts, and work with many different pieces of processing equipment. Students were broken into 10 teams and given time to draft their products before heading over to UltraSource. Beef ball tip roasts and turkey breasts were utilized by each Iron Chef team, and were donated by Certified Angus Beef brand and Cargill, respectively. Students developed rubs and brines from spices donated by A.C. Legg and Old World Spices & Seasonings and brought their visions to life. Students then were transported to the Kansas City Barbeque Society, where they met with barbecue pit masters and began smoking and grilling their products. Following hours of preparation, students presented their products to an expert panel of judges to compete for the Iron Chef Champion, and showcased the product for all RMC attendees.

The Iron Chef People’s Choice Award went to “The Machine,” which included team members Rosemaria Meza, Rachel Wynn, Morgan Denzer, Michaella Fevold, Mariah Nondorf, Kassidy Hakemack, Jennifer Perez, Clay Newton, Callan Lichtenwatler, Ben Mills, and Andi Inmon. The Iron Chef Champion Team went to “Sweet and Spicy,” which included team members Avery Smith, Lydia Hite, Mac Cassas, Maycye Boyd, Madison Hardin, Marisol Escamilla, Paige Smith, Xinyi Wei, and Zack Peppimeier. The Iron Chef 2nd Place Team went to “Meat Sweats,” which included team members Alexis Carroll, Arquimides Reyes, Chaoyang Li, Dylan Tucker, Magan Knutson, Megan Leitner, Morgan Rosenberger, Taylor Hardin, Thomas Glascock, Wenxin Xiang, and Yufei Guo.

Sunday, June 24th held exciting times for undergraduate and graduate students who participated in the Research ePoster Competition. These students presented their research to a panel of judges and other attendees who wanted to listen in. Presenters then fielded questions from the judges and further explained their research. In the undergraduate division, 7 students participated, and the top three were: 3rd place Erica Shebs, University of Nevada-Reno, 2nd place Maggie Justice, Clemson University; and 1st place Jacob Tuell, Purdue University. The master’s division had a grand total of 22 students participate, and the top master’s individuals were: 3rd place Xinyi Wei, University of Saskatchewan; 2nd place Elizabeth Price, University of Wisconsin; and 1st place Danika Miller, Iowa State University. Finally, eight Ph.D. students participated in the ePoster Competition, and the top three were: 3rd place Derico Setyabrata, Purdue University; 2nd place Macc Rigdon, University of Georgia; and in 1st place Maggie Weinroth, Colorado State University. First place presenters in each division also discussed their research in a reciprocation session during the 71st RMC.

The 2018 Undergraduate Quiz Bowl competition was an intense and competitive event with 108 undergraduates competing and representing 27 teams. The preliminary rounds took place Sunday, June 24th with some action-packed rounds. The final round was Sunday evening during the welcome reception held at the National World War II Museum and Memorial. Going into the final round, we had an undefeated Colorado State University going up against Texas Tech University coming out of the loser’s bracket. 

The first round of finals was an intense fight that was filled with head to head action and buzzer battles. Texas Tech pulled ahead early in the round and sustained that lead throughout the first round; there was a glimmer of hope for this underdog. Sides switched, and quiz bowl continued into the second round. Colorado State fought back with a vengeance and pulled ahead close to the end. With not enough time or questions left to make a comeback, Texas Tech was taken down by the Colorado State team. Colorado State University was recognized as the 2018 Quiz Bowl Winning team, with team members including Conrad Schelkopf, Sam Barker, Terrell Platt and Savannah Millburn.

Each year, universities develop a t-shirt design that fits the theme of that year’s RMC. At this year’s RMC, A Royal Choice, 10 universities developed shirts to be auctioned off. Proceeds of this auction go towards the AMSA Educational Foundation Jimmy Keeton Memorial Fund, which supports the launching of new high-impact programs and equips students with leadership training. This year’s Champion T-Shirt went to Iowa State University, which was purchased for $7,000. The People’s Choice Award, voted on by RMC attendees, went to University of Florida. In total, $12,190 was raised. We look forward to the designs created for next year’s RMC when everyone will “Meat us in the Rockies.”

The 71st Reciprocal Meat Conference was a showcase of what the students in meat science are capable of and it is very evident that they are all destined for great things. Money was raised, research was shared, and knowledge was gained, and next year’s RMC can’t get here fast enough to do it all again!