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Crunchy Critter Clusters Land Food Science Students In National Competition

A concoction of beneficial bacteria in crunchy clusters of cookie bits has earned a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison food science students an invitation to a national product-development competition.

The students developed a product, named Pro-Crunch, that is designed to be mixed into yogurt just before eating. The crunchy bits contain active bacterial cultures, called “probiotics,” that produce a variety of health benefits for consumers. Similar probiotic bacteria occur in live yogurt cultures, but their numbers decline during storage.

The team of graduate students and undergraduates will compete in June at the Institute of Food Technologists annual meeting in Atlanta, Ga. The team is one of six finalists chosen from 20 entries from other universities.

The competition, judged by industry professionals, includes an oral presentation and question/answer session, a poster session, and a taste test. Students gain practical experience in product formulation, safety, cost, marketing, shelf life, packaging, nutrition and processing. The contest also gives potential employers a chance to spot promising students.