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Food Newswire Stories

CIRAS Staff News: Meet Ben Drescher

Ben Drescher has joined CIRAS as a Food and Feed Quality and Safety project manager. Ben holds a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education from Iowa State University and a Master of Sciences in Agricultural Science from Murry State University.   Before joining CIRAS, Ben spent nine years as the Animal Science Farms Director at Iowa … Continue reading CIRAS Staff News: Meet Ben Drescher

Networking Helps Cedar Ridge Solve Equipment Needs

Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery had a problem: its packaging equipment was inefficient, took up too much space, and required too many people to operate. Replacing the outdated machinery would cost more than $150,000. Murphy Quint, head distiller and chief of operations at Cedar Ridge, knew the Iowa Economic Development Authority had a program to … Continue reading Networking Helps Cedar Ridge Solve Equipment Needs

Giving Clients Access to a World-class Facility

A partnership with the Iowa State University Meats Laboratory gives Iowa meat producers access to world-class research, technology, and training to keep them informed, updated, and competitive. “CIRAS helps us educate processors on basic meat science as well as advances in food processing and food safety technology,” said Terry Houser, associate professor and extension meat … Continue reading Giving Clients Access to a World-class Facility

Iowa State’s Polymer and Food Protection Consortium Is on the Move

The Polymer and Food Protection Consortium (PFPC) recently shifted its packaging processing function to the Biocentury Research Farm near Boone, having outgrown its original facilities on the Iowa State campus. The larger space will enable PFPC to continue expanding its services in food safety research to support companies.  With initial and ongoing support from CIRAS, … Continue reading Iowa State’s Polymer and Food Protection Consortium Is on the Move

CIRAS Staff News: Martin and Burant Shifting Roles

Two longtime CIRAS employees are taking on new roles in an attempt to serve Iowans better.

Woofables Uses COVID-19 Slump to Plan Future Growth

A Coralville bakery catering to the culinary needs of dogs expects to triple in size over the next three years after CIRAS gave it the confidence to expand its service of two different parts of the market for high-quality treats.

Woofables, a gourmet dog treat bakery established in 2004, is wrapping up a major expansion that included creation of two separate production lines to serve both small pet boutiques and large commercial supermarkets. Company leaders say the investment will make Woofables more efficient at serving two growing segments of a growing industry—segments with competing interests that don’t always align.

Muscatine’s MARRVE Will Make Fuel from Former Food

A Muscatine solid-waste treatment facility is building what it hopes will become a major biogas production plant after Iowa State University helped the city discover its best formula for using food waste to produce methane.

Jon Koch, director of the city of Muscatine’s Water and Resource Recovery Facility, said his agency recently completed the first two-year, $4 million phase of developing Muscatine Area Resource Recovery for Vehicles and Energy (MARRVE). The effort has turned a former recycling center into a hub for food manufacturers around the Midwest to drop off food waste for treatment by Muscatine’s anaerobic digesters.

The goal eventually is to handle enough food waste—and produce enough biogas from that process—to generate and sell the equivalent of 1,000 gallons of vehicle fuel per day.

Announcing ‘Food Talks’ Forum for Food Manufacturers

Food manufacturing is complicated. Wouldn’t you like a place where you can get a little help?

We thought so. That’s why CIRAS next month is launching Food Talks, a new roundtable discussion to give food manufacturers a place where they can collaborate and exchange ideas.

Industry 4.0 Assessment Helps CJ Bio Start Smart with Tech Upgrades

A Fort Dodge feed ingredients company expects to save millions of dollars by implementing technology upgrades identified through a CIRAS Industry 4.0 assessment.

CJ Bio, which produces amino acids for livestock and poultry feed, expects to have the top two or three items of improvements on its list completed by the end of 2020. The list, which details places where technology enhancements could have the largest impact on the company’s bottom line, was created through a CIRAS-guided process of reassessing CJ Bio’s current use of technology in its business.

Food Safety Collaboration Launching New Round of Online Classes

More than 40 people from 32 companies now have taken part in the CIRAS Food Safety Collaboration, a series of intensive three-month classes that were created last summer.

CIRAS project manager said the classes, which were developed as part of a nationwide effort to improve the way companies are taught about food safety, remain popular with small businesses. But they’ve also developed a new following as training for managers at larger food companies.

Agreement Means Meat Processors Grow

Joe Cordray put it simply when asked to explain the impact of new inspection rules that went into place for small Iowa meat processors this spring.

“It’s really a pretty big deal,” said Cordray, a longtime meat science professor at Iowa State University. “The smaller plants, they’re essentially located in rural Iowa. And a lot of our rural Iowa towns could use a little revitalization.”

Our COVID-19 Site has Expanded

As the pandemic continues to evolve, we wanted to remind you of some of the many additions we’ve made over the last few weeks to the CIRAS COVID-19 website.

CIRAS is committed to bringing you the best information possible to help you make necessary decisions about your business. Toward that end, we’ve been regularly adding content and refocusing our efforts to answer the questions that Iowa businesses tell us they’re concerned about.

ISU Research Helps PigEasy Prove Potential

A Templeton, Iowa-based maker of farm machinery intends to launch a new product this summer after Iowa State University research—provided through the CIRAS Technology Assistance Program (TAP)—helped the company prove that its invention works.

CIRAS Receives New Funding to Expand Assistance

AMES, Iowa – Iowa State University’s Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) is proud to announce that we have obtained several new contracts over the past month that will aid in our efforts to help Iowa manufacturers respond to a rapidly changing world.

Martin to Receive Award for Economic Development Achievement

CIRAS Account Manager Brenda Martin will receive Iowa State University’s Award for Achievement in Economic Development during a ceremony in September.

Martin has been serving Iowa manufacturers since 2003, when she began working with CIRAS through a partnership with her previous employer, Iowa Central Community College. Since 2016, she been employed as a CIRAS account manager focusing on the food industry and building relationships throughout the state. Brenda also serves on the board of the Iowa Meat Processors Association and is active in the Iowa Sustainable Business Forum.

CIRAS Points Graziano Brothers to New Future

Toward the back of a long, narrow office, tucked away in a storefront that has been a south Des Moines landmark for more than 107 years, Frances Graziano sat behind a paperwork-laden desk last September and chuckled.

Was she scared? Absolutely.

“It’s terrifying,” said Graziano, president and CEO of the Graziano Brothers food company. “It’s absolutely terrifying. Is the product going to work? Do we have everything in place? Are we going to have a handle on the quality control? Is there going to be a market for our product outside of its current geographic area?”

Early this year, for the first time since 1912, the manufacture of Graziano Brothers sausage took place somewhere outside the small brick building on South Union Street. The change, which followed roughly 18 months of planning and preparation alongside CIRAS experts, is part of a broad, multistep plan to breathe new life into a historic family business and position it for a much longer future.

Planning for Future at Tiefenthaler Quality Meats

It all started roughly 38 years ago, when John Tiefenthaler needed a job to take part in a high school vocational program. Tiefenthaler, then 18, visited the local Holstein, Iowa, meat locker. Uncertain how to act, he clumsily introduced himself and assumed that somebody would call him later. When no one did, he eventually admitted … Continue reading Planning for Future at Tiefenthaler Quality Meats

Polymer and Food Protection Consortium Adds Expert for Outreach

Iowa State University’s Polymer and Food Protec­tion Consortium has added a plastic manufactur­ing expert to help Iowa companies deal with their growing focus on the safety and effectiveness of food packaging.

Tortilleria Sonora Steps Out on Path to Food Safety Certification

Life began moving faster after Betty Garcia got the phone call.

It was the fall of 2017, and a Des Moines-area produce company was planning to launch a line of ready-to-eat meals. The company was wondering whether Tortilleria Sonora would be interested in supplying tortillas. First, there were a few questions about the business. Would Garcia mind filling out a questionnaire?

Dickson Industries Opens New Doors by Achieving Global Quality Standard

A 72-year-old Des Moines company with a long history of making products that boost the flavor and appearance of meat is now pursuing new opportunities after CIRAS helped the firm obtain a Safe Quality Food (SQF) certification.

David Dickson, president of Dickson Industries, said his company obtained its certification last March after a CIRAS gap assessment helped Dickson understand the quality requirements and prepare for the review.

American Packaging Finds Its Future, Proof of French Fry Potential

American Packaging in Story City landed a $750,000 contract and a new line of business because CIRAS helped the company prove that it could reliably produce plastic bags that a potential customer needed for frozen french fries.

Water Security in Iowa – Knowing What You Use, Having a Good Plan

For Bill Zimmerle, plant manager of the Valent BioSciences Corporation (VBC) facility in Osage, it all comes down to planning for the future.

The future, you see, requires water.

Update: Future of Manufacturing Series

About 18 months ago, CIRAS announced its new “Future of Manufacturing” series to help manufacturers become ready for what is “next” in manufacturing. While this was a significant leap, it was based on a simple premise: changes in technology, workforce, and business models were moving so fast that we needed to help get Iowa manufacturers out in front.

CIRAS Spotlight: Kimberly Anderson

CIRAS specialists know a lot about Iowa businesses. Here are a few questions and answers to help you learn a little more about them:

Food Companies Seek CIRAS’ Help Analyzing Gaps in Food Safety

Ron Petersen thought he had it right, but he wasn’t sure.

Petersen, owner of Summertime Potato Company in Des Moines, sought CIRAS’ help last year to make certain that his company was in compliance with the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), a sweeping 2011 law that gave the FDA new powers to prevent foodborne illness.

New CIRAS’ Tool Shows Food Makers Where to Start in Controlling Contamination

Angela Shaw stood smiling in a room full of food industry safety experts last month and compared the process they were practicing to visiting a family clinic.

“Just like when you go to the doctor,” said Shaw, an assistant professor of food safety in Iowa State University’s Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. “They ask you a series of questions, and at the end they go, ‘I think I know what’s wrong with you.’ ”

In this case, the questions pertained not (directly) to human health but to the safety of food manufacturing machines.

CIRAS Food Industry Survey Shows Diversity, Interest in Improvement

The Iowa companies manufacturing human and animal food are mostly small firms with well-established histories. Despite that history, some appear to be ripe for large-scale change.

Iowa State’s Cordray, Sebranek Named to Meat Industry Hall of Fame

Two Iowa State University professors have been named 2016 inductees to the national Meat Industry Hall of Fame.

Joseph Cordray and Joseph Sebranek, professors in the Department of Animal Science, are slated to be honored along with five other industry leaders at the International Production and Processing Expo in Atlanta on January 31, 2017.

CCUR Director Celebrates a Year “On the Edge of Where Science Is”

Kevin Keener sees enormous potential in the innovative projects taking root at Iowa State University’s Center for Crops Utilization Research (CCUR).

Keener, now entering his second year as CCUR’s director, describes research­ers seeking to use fermentation and chemical changes to crop by-products to create plastics or adhesives. Sci­entists also are studying how to cre­ate oil-based materials out of natural components. And roughly 100 companies annually, most focused on food and feed production and food safety, are work­ing on projects in CCUR’s on-campus pilot-scale processing spaces or at the CCUR-managed BioCentury Research Farm outside Ames.

Iowa State Seeks to Educate Companies on Looming Food Law

Think of it as an impending explosion in the dark: It’s coming at some point. It may be a time bomb or a firecracker. You don’t know how big, or how close to you,  the eventual bang will be.

You probably ought to find out.

Experts say that’s roughly the current situation in Iowa’s food companies, many of whom can expect within months to feel the first full weight of important new federal safety regulations. A 2011 law called the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) gave the FDA new powers to prevent outbreaks of foodborne disease. But the impact of new rules was largely delayed as authorities constructed complex standards and procedures.