jacob petrich

professor and chair

People thought the idea was crazy. Guess who's laughing now.

Almost everyone called a new device invented by Jacob Petrich and colleagues at the National Animal Disease Center a joke. That is, until it worked. Now Jake is having the last laugh. "They said it wouldn't work, that it would give a lot of false positives. But now it's a real product and it makes money for Iowa State."

Jake's device is used to detect feces on fresh meat, the primary cause of meat contamination. The instrument uses specific wavelengths or colors of light to illuminate the carcass, focusing on grass that has been digested by the animal. If fecal matter has gotten on the carcass during the slaughtering stage, the device will detect it by returning a red fluorescent light. "What's so nice about the technology is that it's very simple," Jake says.

The device has been marketed and is now used in meatpacking plants across the country.