Penn State and Danisco team-up to offer the dairy industry an educational cultural experience

Cultured dairy foods experts from both industry and academia are invited to teach the course.
Where do you go to study and learn about cultured dairy products? Penn State of course! The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa., and Danisco, New Century, Kan., have teamed up to offer cultured dairy foods manufacturers a chance to learn and perfect their trade by attending a four-day Cultured Dairy Products Short Course (CPSC), the newest offering in the Penn State Dairy education series, which includes the 111-year old Ice Cream Short Course and the Pasteurizer Operators workshop.

“The Cultured Dairy Products Short Course, now in its fifth year, is patterned after the highly successful Penn State Ice Cream Short Course,” says Doug Vargo, senior technical service representative at Danisco. “Attendees tell us that the course has given them a better understanding of the science and technology that underlies the industry. It has made them more adept in responding to new situations that arise in the manufacture of cultured products.”

The CPSC is designed to provide participants with an overview of basic dairy technology and the manufacture of cultured dairy products including buttermilk, sour cream, cottage cheese, yogurt and cream cheese. The CPSC includes both lectures and laboratory exercises addressing dairy chemistry, protein technology, microbiology, stabilizer use and other aspects of the manufacture of cultured dairy foods including flavoring systems.

“Hands-on lab time gives participants the opportunity to see how different ingredients impact the finished product,” says the course’s lead instructor, Penn State Professor Bob Roberts.

The course came to fruition as a result of a shared vision by Roberts and Vargo. Both food scientists saw a need to provide cultured dairy product manufacturers with technical tools to assist them with enhancing their businesses.

“This is the only course of its kind in the country,” says Vargo. “Production staff, quality control personnel, R&D professionals and plant managers will all find this course very helpful.

During product evaluation sessions, course participants learn to recognize the most common defects and how to correct them.
“Dr. Roberts and I each saw a need to educate and train people in the cultured products industry, and this course certainly does just that,” Vargo continues. “Some people have found the course so helpful that they have come back to take it a second time.”

Roberts says, “I think a major strength of this program is that relevant experts, drawn from both industry and academia, are invited to teach in the course. Many of the attendees tell us that the course is comprehensive and, perhaps more importantly, that they will be able to apply some of the information immediately when they return to work.”

Roberts brings exceptional value to the workshop as he is recognized as an expert in the global cultured products industry. His reputation has provided him the opportunity to travel to dairies around the world to help them solve problems and improve their processes.

“On an assignment in Ukraine, I was able to help a manufacturer develop new yogurt products and extend shelflife by as much as 50%,” says Roberts. “In many ways, international experiences help to refine the topics that are taught during the course.”

Vargo, who has been involved in the cultured dairy industry for 25 years and is considered by many to be a cultured dairy products guru, adds, “Course participants can send their company’s cultured dairy products to the Penn State Creamery to be judged by a panel of expert dairy judges during the course. Some samples are selected to demonstrate to course participants positive attributes, as well as product defects. Such lab sessions enable participants to recognize the most common defects and learn how to correct them.”

This year’s class will be held September 15-18 on the Penn State campus. For more information, call 877/778-2937, or visit