A long-time member of the Iowa State University animal science faculty is now in the Meat Industry Hall of Fame. Robert Rust was one of 12 new members inducted Oct. 30, 2010 during a ceremony in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Also in the group were the founders of three fast-food restaurants – McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Wendy's – as well as executives, scientists and association leaders from all sectors of the meat industry. "We are delighted to include 12 of the legendary names in our industry this year," says Dan Murphy, executive director and co-founder of the Hall of Fame. "These people are credited with fostering much of the profound change, remarkable progress and success of our North American meat industry."
Rust, now an emeritus professor in the animal science department, came to Iowa State in 1959 as the university's first extension meat specialist, following five years in a similar position at Michigan State University.
A pioneer in bringing technology to meat processing industry
"Bob was a pioneer in bringing technology to the meat processing industry," says Maynard Hogberg, animal science department chair. "He was the father of the meat science short courses at Iowa State. He was an innovator, and an outstanding extension specialist to the meat science industry."
Rust says he is pleased to be recognized in this way. "This coming from the clientele I was serving says I must have done something right," he notes. "When I started, a typical meat science extension program was home butchering, meat animal carcass evaluation and some consumer information. There was very little going on with the meat industry." Rust says there was a lot of scientific work being done on meat processing, but no interface with the industry. That prompted him to begin a series of short courses, making Iowa State the first university to offer formal classes for the meat processing industry.
ISU was the first to offer formal classes on meat processing
The popular "Sausage and Processed Meats" short course from ISU, which began in 1979, is an example of the class offerings Rust initiated that continue today. "If I had made a prediction back then, I would have said we would probably run out of an audience in five to 10 years," Rust says. "But interest remains strong, with participants coming each year from around the world."
Rust retired in 1994 but continues to be a presenter at some of the short courses offered in the ISU Meat Lab.
Being named to the Meat Industry Hall of Fame is the latest in a long list of awards and honors for Rust. He was the first person to receive both the Extension Award and the Meat Processing Award from the American Meat Science Association. He also was named a fellow of both the Institute of Food Technologists and the American Society of Animal Science.
He is one of the world's foremost experts on meat processing
Rust has served as a consultant to meat processors in the U.S. and more than 30 other countries. He has been part of a number of international educational programs for meat processors, particularly in Latin America.
He's been co-author of more than 55 articles in scientific journals, 35 extension publications, plus over 200 technical and semi-technical publications, nine chapters in reference books, one textbook on meat processing and co-editor of a book on thermal processing. Rust has been involved in numerous research projects related to meat processing, marketing product quality and safety. He was a mentor to many students at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.
Following retirement he and his wife, Dorothy, established a scholarship fund to encourage and support students interested in a career in meat processing. "I hope Iowa State continues to be in the forefront of research, teaching and extension programs in meat processing," Rust says. "Meat processing is the last link between the livestock industry and the consumer. Any ripple effect backwards could have a negative impact on the livestock industry."
Rust earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and a master's degree at Michigan State University.