Meat Stars In UW-Madison International Competition

From many an Italian meat slicer making bologna, to fresh bacon; meat was the star of the day at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with not a single slice of cheese in sight.

For just the second time in its history, judges from the German Butchers Association ventured abroad, to look at, critique and score meat. For four days, the judges were at the atrium of the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, looking at 460 entries from 42 butcher shops and meat plants from across the US and Canada, which severs as a search for worthy entries into the GBA’s triennial international competition, held in May in Frankfurt, Germany.

The Madison event was free and open to the general public, with plenty of samples. The aim of the event was to increase the number of North American entries into the competition without having to go through the trouble of shipping meat products to the European Union.

According to Chris Young, American Association of Meat Processors’ Executive Director, these meat products tend to either get lost in customs or get rejected, which is why the event in UW-Madison is a great opportunity for their members, as it lets them compete on an international level without having to leave the country.

The GBA’s triennial competition in Frankfurt attracts about 2,500 entries from across the world, counting the entries that were judged in Madison by the GBA’s judges. The GBA’s contest acts as a look into the local meat production industry, which has been growing, to the benefit of any company making tools for butchers, from Italian meat slicer to cleavers..  Thanks to people from across the world settling into the area, Wisconsin is home to a lot of butcher shops, meat plants and sausage factories.

Included in their number are national brands like Jack Links in Minong, and Usinger Sausage in Milwaukee. There are also a lot of family-owned butcher shops in the region, like Lodi Sausage Co., among others, which have been making a push.

On top of that, UW-Madison is working on a nearly $50 million Meat Science and Muscle Biology Laboratory set to be completed in fall. The lab will include a meat-slaughtering-to-packaging facility, a lecture and demonstration space, research labs, as well as a retail store for the general public, open six days every week.

UW-Madison Associate Professor and UW Extension Meat Specialist in the Department of Animal Sciences Jeff Sindelar says that there’s a lot of plants in the area thanks to Wisconsin’s history. He says it makes them unique, with people knowing how to make good products, even back in the past.