Edward Baker of Cross Plains, Robert Cassens of Madison, the late David Drummond of Eau Claire, and Howard Curler of Neenah and Robert Woods, currently of Albuquerque, N.M. will be inducted into the Wisconsin Meat Industry Hall of Fame May 2 at the annual meeting of the Wisconsin Livestock and Meat Council in Madison.
As the first program administrator for the Wisconsin''s meat inspection program, serving from 1967 to 1984, Edward Baker was faced with the challenge of bringing uniform regulations to Wisconsin''s 500 small-scale meat plants, most of which were owned by fiercely independent small-businessmen. However, he overcame the initial opposition to state regulation of meat processing plants, established a cooperative working relationship with plant owners, and built an inspection program that brought credibility and respect to the industry. Baker helped to clarify confusion about rule exemptions, which required making many trips to Washington, D.C. He also worked to protect state funding for the program, which the governor once vetoed out of the budget. When plants had to meet federal facilities requirements, his staff inspected 50 to 75 remodeling projects a year for several years. He also worked to protect state funding for the program, which the governor once vetoed out of the budget.
One of the best-trained muscle biologists in the world, Robert Cassens” international reputation for excellence in meat processing research has benefited Wisconsin and its meat industry in many ways. As a professor of Meat and Animal Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he has educated thousands of students, some of whom have become leaders in Wisconsin”s meat industry, and has made the meat science and muscle biology program a model for other programs throughout the world. His research about pork lean quality has guided Wisconsin and national hog producers in improving the quality and quantity of pork meat through improved genetics and management practices. His research on understanding the action of sodium nitrite in meat curing has greatly benefited meat processors. Cassens has authored more than 300 scientific journal articles, organized several international symposia at Wisconsin, wrote two books and developed several classes at the UW-Madison.
When David Drummond came to Eau Claire in 1870, he wanted to build a meat packing plant to meet the demand of local lumber camps. His plant would eventually grow to control the market in all of northwestern Wisconsin. The son of Scottish immigrants, David Drummond was born in western Ontario, Canada in 1849. When he moved to Eau Claire, then a frontier town, he soon found a partner and began a meat packing business called Brooks and Drummond. By 1927 the business, now called the Drummond Packing Company, was producing over ten million pounds of meat annually. Most of the livestock the company processed were raised within 75 miles of Eau Claire, so it was an important market for local farmers.
Howard Curler and Robert Woods
When Howard Curler saw his employer decide against developing flexible polymer extrusion packaging materials, he knew that had to start a business and do it on his own. Curler was a chemical researcher at the Marathon Corporation in the late-1950s, and invited his coworker Robert Woods, a mechanical engineer, to join him in pioneering the future of food packaging. When Curler and Woods started Curwood in 1958, the most sophisticated food packaging materials were glass, tin, waxed paper and cellophane. Meat was cut to order in corner grocery stores, and wrapped in brown paper and string. However, Curler and Woods were convinced that flexible polymer materials could serve as effective, economical replacements for all of these. Curwood”s flexible films revolutionized cheese packaging, and Curwood products became the packaging of choice for a growing list of perishable foods.