Andrew L. Milkowski was born in Munich, Germany to parents displaced by World War II. His family soon immigrated to the US and settled in the Chicago area where he was raised. He studied chemistry as an undergraduate at the University of Illinois-Champaign-Urbana and then came to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned his PhD in Biochemistry. In 1977, Andy joined Oscar Mayer Foods in Madison, WI, (now a division of the Kraft-Heinz Company) as a research scientist initially working on by-products as raw materials for pharmaceuticals. During his tenure at Oscar Mayer Foods, he led the Applied and Basic research programs before achieving the designation of a Kraft Foods Fellow, the most distinguished position for scientists within Kraft Foods. He retired in 2006 and joined the Animal Sciences department at UW-Madison as an Adjunct Professor and member of the UW Food Research Institute Executive Committee.
Andy is one of the foremost experts on the topic of food safety in the processed meats industry. Application of his discoveries has resulted in processed meats that can be enjoyed with significantly fewer concerns about their safety. His expertise and leadership in food safety research are exemplified by the efforts of Oscar Mayer to combat the presence and growth of Listeria monocytogenes in processed, ready-to-eat meats. Andy was the leader of a massive effort that ultimately led to the successful use of lactate, diacetate and other antimicrobial compounds to prevent the growth of this pathogen while achieving desirable sensory characteristics. This dramatically improved microbial safety of these products. It not only benefitted Oscar Mayer but also the entire industry when the company released its results for use without restriction. Andy was a proponent of providing a free license for its use, an eloquent demonstration of his moral commitment to the multiple stakeholders who should benefit from his research. The consuming public was the ultimate beneficiary.
Dr. Milkowski has long provided his expertise to the North American Meat Institute (NAMI). An outstanding example is his service as the chair of the Sodium Nitrite Advisory Committee. The committee did an outstanding job educating scientists and regulators about the scientific basis for the safety of sodium nitrite, an essential ingredient in the production of cured meat. These efforts and scientific research led both the National Toxicology Program and California’s Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Committee to affirm that nitrite in cured meats is not only safe, but plays an essential role in protecting public health. As a result, Andy and the committee were awarded the American Meat Institute’s Industry Advancement Award, the highest award given by the association in recognition of his leadership, the unusually difficult challenges faced by the committee and the successes it achieved.
Furthermore, Andy is recognized internationally as an expert in meat processing and formulation optimization as evidenced by the 10 patents his teams were awarded for innovations in these fields and his 15 peer reviewed publications. His expertise in the production of hot dogs, bologna sausages, fermented sausages, ham, turkey breast and bacon is still highly sought today. Andy continues to educate current students and future meat processors across the world via his participation in courses at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as well as his international travel and consultation to a multitude of meat processors.
The accomplishments described in this citation demonstrate Andy’s depth and breadth of knowledge in meat science, product development, food safety and toxicology. Perhaps the best description of Dr. Andy Milkowski’s impact on the meat industry of Wisconsin and around the world is provided by Rick Searer, retired President of Oscar Mayer and of Kraft Foods North America: “Quite simply, Andy is one of the foremost scientific experts on the topic of food safety in the processed meats industry and his work has resulted in a safer food supply and consumers who can enjoy processed meats products with significantly lessened concerns about food safety…Dr. Andy Milkowski, a great scientist, a knowledgeable business partner, and a person who does the right thing.”