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Monday, October 25, 2021

A team of UF students won big last week for a sausage with a Florida twist.

On Feb. 11, five students were awarded first place at the University Student Cook-off during MEATXPO’13, a meat industry exposition in Las Vegas. Their entry, an orange-infused sausage dubbed the Sunshine Citrus Sausage, beat out eight other universities.

“We had a unique product,” said Brittany McDaniel, a 21-year-old UF agricultural education and communication junior.

McDaniel joined Tahlia Pollitt, Victoria Velinsky, Katelyn Malin and Matthew Love — all animal science undergraduates — at the event. The students, who were selected based on their experience and school performance, worked together to plan, produce and present their sausage.

Sally Williams, an associate professor of animal sciences and adviser to the students, said the group devised the idea for an orange-flavored sausage early in the planning process.

“You want a product that stands out,” she said. “If you’re from Florida, relate it to Florida.”

The team produced its first prototype in November and eventually went through six batches before creating the final product.

Although they originally had planned two versions of the sausage, one smoked and one fresh, the students decided to focus on the smoked version for its superior flavor, Williams said.

For the final product, the students produced 50 pounds of sausage using campus equipment. During the event, the sausage was cooked on-site and served with the other entries in a buffet-style lunch.

“I was hopeful, but I wasn’t certain about a win because the competition looked good,” said Love, a 20-year-old UF animal science sophomore.

The group was awarded the top prize by a panel of four judges, all of whom were professionals in the industry.

MEATXPO is hosted by the North American Meat Association, a trade group of about 700 companies in the meat industry.

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For Williams, although winning the competition was satisfying, the real meaning of the event was allowing students to get experience with the industry.

“This event is important because it allows the students to enhance their professional development and networking,” she said. “Some of the folks here might be their future employers.”

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