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AMSA is excited to announce that Drs. Tommy Wheeler, Dennis Burson and Andrew Milkowski are the recipients of the 2012 American Meat Science Association (AMSA) Signal Service Awards. They will be honored at a special reception and awards presentation at the AMSA 65th Annual Reciprocal Meat Conference (RMC) on Tuesday, June 19, 2012 in Fargo, ND.

The AMSA Signal Service Award was established in 1956 and is given to members in recognition of devoted service and lasting contributions to the meat industry and to the association. Sponsoring these awards are Keystone Foods, Johnsonville Sausage Company and Elanco Animal Health. 

WheelerDr. Wheeler has developed improved cooking and shearing protocols for shear force as a measure of meat tenderness and has served on or chaired committees standardizing the protocols for Warner-Bratzler shear force testing and updating AMSA sensory and shear guidelines. In addition, Dr. Wheeler has been a leader in meat safety research projects that have made important contributions to improve the safety of beef by establishing the importance of the hide as a source of carcass contamination, demonstrating the efficacy of a hide-wash cabinet as an intervention to reduce the incidence of carcass contamination, determining that the processing plant lairage environment is the leading source of pathogens contaminating cattle hides, and showing that feeding distillers grains to cattle increases E. coli O157:H7 shedding. 

Dr. Wheeler, who also received the AMSA Achievement Award in 1996, is an internationally recognized expert on those topics and has been an invited speaker at numerous conferences and symposia. He is frequently consulted by various industry segments requesting research to solve a problem or assistance implementing his research results. Dr. Wheeler has authored or co-authored 140 refereed journal publications and chapters for two books, 105 abstracts and 76 technical reports.

bursonDr. Burson, who is admired and respected by his colleagues for his innovation, service to the industry and personal qualities of leadership and integrity, was raised on a farm in Nebraska where a strong interest in Animal Agriculture began. He later developed an interest in meat and meat processing through collegiate meat judging activities and has spent most of his career focusing on meat technology and the meat industry. Burson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in animal science from the University of Nebraska in 1977. He then went on to earn his Masters of Science and Ph.D. in meat science at Kansas State University in 1979 and 1985. 

His areas of expertise are Meat Science and Food Safety and he has worked with HACCP and Food Safety systems for meat and food Processors since 1992. Dr. Burson serves as the Extension Meat Specialist for the University of Nebraska. His educational programs address food safety, Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point systems, and improving the quality, consistency, and value of market animals. 

Dmilkowskir. Milkowski has played an active and essential role in the research and development department of Oscar Mayer, and a vital role in this country’s processed meat industry.  He was first hired as a research scientist in the biological products division of Oscar Mayer where he developed a novel process for extracting plasminogen activator from hog slaughter byproducts. He later moved to the R&D department, where he joined the applied research group and worked with several renowned scientists. He worked on a variety of projects to improve the quality of Oscar Mayer products. His efforts resulted in several patents specific to the use of lactate salts to improve product quality. 

Dr. Milkowski has been one of the unsung scientists that have contributed greatly to improving the quality and safety of the nation’s meat and poultry supply. He has been instrumental in preserving and defending nitrite as a key meat curing ingredient. He recently headed a distinguished panel of researchers in a comprehensive review of the benefits and safety of nitrite. The manuscript is scheduled for publication in 2012  

The service and lasting industry contributions of Drs. Wheeler, Burson and Milkowski truly illustrate the purpose of the AMSA Signal Service Award and demonstrate that each is deserving of this prestigious award. 

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AMSA fosters community and professional development among individuals who create and apply science to efficiently provide safe and high quality meat defined as red meat (beef, pork and lamb), poultry, fish/seafood and meat from other managed species.