OSU College of Ag Sciences honors dairy expert Edmund Zottola

October 27, 2006

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Edmund Zottola, of Cook, Minnesota, was an Extension food microbiology at the University of Minnesota for nearly 30 years. But he never forgot his roots in Oregon. His work at Minnesota found application cheese plants and other food processing plants in Oregon.

Zottola is one of 26 men and women to be inducted as Diamond Pioneers by the Oregon State University College of Agricultural Sciences Thursday, Oct. 26, in Corvallis. Their names are being added to the Diamond Pioneer Agricultural Achievement Registry that started 23 years when the college reached 75. The registry celebrates the accomplishments of those 75 and older.

Zottola got his first taste of dairy food processing at the Zottola Cheese factory owned and operated by his father and uncle in Grants Pass. He continued to be involved until 1945 when the company was sold. Later his father opened Zottola’s Dairy Products. After graduating from OSU, Zottola returned to Grants Pass and the family business for about two years when he decided he wanted to be a college professor.

After earning his master’s degree in dairy technology from OSU, Zottola studied for his doctorate at Minnesota. His interest in food microbiology led to a major research project that developed a reduced temperature treatment process adopted by cheese plants throughout the United States, including Oregon, as a way of preventing possible outbreaks of Staphylococcal food poisoning. The process allowed Cheddar cheese to maintain some, if not all, the desirable characteristics of raw milk.

After working in private enterprise, Zottola returned to the University of Minnesota in 1966 as Extension food microbiologist in the dairy industries department. During his tenure in this position, Zottola authored a series of publications about food borne diseases that have been used throughout the nation, including in the OSU departments of food science, foods and nutrition, and the meats laboratory.

Zottola was the lead investigator during a three-year program to study the validity of home caning guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. During this time, he was recognized as one of the nation’s two experts on home canning.

In the early 1970s, he was one of the originators of a standardized training program for employees of commercial operations that canned many types of food. It became a “set course” and required by the Food and Drug Administration.

OSU’s Food Science and Technology Department is one in about 20 U.S. universities that conduct the three-day course annually under the auspices of the FDA, with oversight and educational materials of the Food Processors Association.

In the early 1980s, Zottola returned to Oregon to spend a sabbatical year working in the dairy microbiology laboratories of William Sandine at OSU. In 1984, he changed positions at Minnesota to become professor of microbiology in the food science and nutrition department. There his research projects included studying food contact surfaces and the microbial content of cooling water used with milk pasteurizers.

Zottola retired from Minnesota in 1997 as professor emeritus of food microbiology. During his career, he received numerous awards from the Institute of Food Technologists, the International Association of Food Protection, and the Minnesota Sanitarians Association. The Oregon Dairy Industries Association nominated him for the Diamond Pioneer registry.

Others to be honored are Myron S. and S. Jane Harper, Brooks; Margaret Campbell and Bill Jaeger, Condon; Ian Tinsley, Harry Nakaue, Allan Deutsch, John R. Dalvis, and Floyd Bolton, Corvallis; W. James Clawson, Dallas; Edwin (Tad) H. Miller, Jr., Louis Carlson, and Betty Graves Carlson, Heppner; Donald Rydrych and Harry Schuening, Helix.

DeLane Fry, Hillsboro; Rita Swyers, Hood River; Don Logan, North Plains; Ben Holdman, Pendleton; Vernon Hulit and Ray McNeilan, Portland; Don Kruse, Roseburg; David Childs, The Dalles; Allan Pinkerton, Surprise, AZ, and Pendleton; and the late Ernest J. Briskey, Waunakee, Wisconsin.

Author: Len Calvert
Source: Loretta Austin