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National Best in Show pepperoni has UW link

On July 21-22, 2016, The American Association of Meat Processors held the 2016 American Cured Meats Championship at their national convention in Omaha, Nebraska. In this cured meat product competition, there were over 700 products entered in different 27 classes. Each class had one judge to evaluate the overall appearance of the products, the uniformity, flavor, texture, aroma, creativity, and workmanship.

The top scoring entries from each product class were then gathered for the final contest: Best of Show. This year, the prestigious award went to a spicy pepperoni made by Wisconsin’s very own Jake Sailer of Sailer’s Food Market & Meat Processing in Elmwood, Wisconsin.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Meat Science Extension program is particularly proud of Sailer’s accomplishments. Sailer was hand-selected to be a part of UW’s inaugural Master Meat Crafter class of 2012. During his time with the program, Sailer learned about meat processing from a scientific perspective and how to apply this science to his 5th generation family business. He was able to gain a deeper understanding for fresh meats, food safety & microbiology, meat curing, and sausage-manufacture of all kinds. With the knowledge gained from the Master Meat Crafter program, Sailer was able to develop new products for his retail store—including the award-winning spicy pepperoni.

Sailer’s employee, Justin Fugate, later participated in the Master Meat Crafter program from 2014-2016. For Fugate’s Master Meat Crafter accreditation, he conducted a research project to refine and improve the spicy pepperoni formulation originally developed by Sailer. Jeff Sindelar, UW-Madison associate professor of animal science and UW-Extension meat specialist, was key in overseeing the progression of this project.

The hard work of Sailer and Fugate has paid off in a superior product. In addition to Best in Show at the recent national competition, the pepperoni also took Best of Show at the Wisconsin Association of Meat Processors convention this past April.