Food Safety Blog

Terry McAninch
Vice President of Research and Development

Material Changes to Safety Data Sheets

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration — OSHA — has mandated that all Material Safety Data Sheets be converted to…

Birko Chemical Food Processing Innovation

Birko’s expertise and innovation in food safety is built on a strong technical foundation. Our laboratory facilities include a Class II pathogen lab, headed by Birko’s Research and Development Chemist, Victor Reusch, Ph.D., and supported by a highly-trained team of chemists and microbiologists. These professionals are available for on-site consultations with customers in the protein, produce and brewery industries. In addition to our own staff, we maintain close relationships with leading academic food safety specialists.


Birko’s Lab Experts

Terry L. McAninch
Terry L. McAninch, Vice President, Research and Development
Terry is familiar with a wide variety of applications for Birko’s products, including tripe washing, foot washing, denaturants, sanitation, tree washing, smokehouse cleaning, blood operations, trolley and gam cleaning, and lubrication. He also has expertise in product formulation, field tech service and troubleshooting.Terry joined Birko in 1973 as a lab technician and later initiated Birko’s quality control program.He is a member of the American Chemical Society, the American Leather Chemists’ Association and the American Oil Chemists’ Society.Terry earned a BA in chemistry and mathematics from Clarion University, and an MS in chemistry from the University of Iowa, where he was a research and teaching assistant.Terry holds several patents, including a tripe bleaching method; a composition for removing hair from full hair whole carcasses; a peracetic acid waste water treatment; a hide curing additive; and a hide raceway treatment.

Terry’s Expertise:

  • Sanitizers and disinfectants
  • Formulation and quality control
  • Best practices and products for hides, rendering, and laundry
  • Meat and poultry processing including byproducts
Elis Owens
Elis Owens, Ph.D., Senior Microbiologist / Chemist
Elis is part of Birko’s R&D team and is active in developing Birko’s antimicrobial product line and attendant delivery systems. He oversees field trials at customer plants, works with university research partners and outside labs and acts as a government liaison for antimicrobial approvals. Elis is also on call to support the day-to-day service of Birko’s technical representatives in the field. He joined the Birko lab team in 2005 from the brewing industry where he held a variety of primary positions in quality assurance and as head brewer.

Elis earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wales in Cardiff, and conducted postdoctoral research at Michigan State University’s Center for Microbial Ecology. He also has a diploma in brewing science from the American Brewers Guild. He has published papers in FEMS Microbiology Ecology and FEMS Microbiology Letters.

Elis has been a presenter at the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit, the Beef Industry Food Safety Council (BIFSCo) and the North American Meat Association. He has also been a workshop instructor for the Center for Produce Safety at the University of California / Davis. Elis is a member of the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP), the Center for Produce Safety Technical Committee, the Produce Marketing Association’s Science and Technology Committee, the United Fresh Produce Association’s Food Safety and Technology Council, the Master Brewers Association of the Americas (MBAA), the American Oil Chemists’ Society (AOCS) and the American Society of Brewing Chemists (ASBC).

Elis is named as a co-inventor on a number of Birko’s patent applications, including the Beefxide® and Chicxide® blends of lactic and citric acids developed with Dr. Victor Reusch and Terry McAninch, also of Birko.

Elis’ Expertise:

  • Controlling foodborne pathogens
  • Antimicrobial interventions
  • Brewing processes and quality
  • Food safety for produce
Victor Reusch
Victor Reusch, Ph.D., Research and Development Chemist
Victor is a research and development chemist for Birko. He has extensive experience with antibiotic research, bacterial fermentation, isolating products from biomass, microchemical analysis and chromatography. Prior to joining Birko, Victor was an associate research professor in the department of biological sciences at The University of Denver, and an assistant professor in the University of Colorado School of Dentistry.He received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Northwestern University and his AB in chemistry from Princeton University. Victor’s background also includes microbial and industrial chemistry as well as analytical and formulation chemistry. Victor has published research papers in the Journal of Bacteriology, Journal of Biological Chemistry and Critical Reviews in Microbiology.He is a member of the American Oil Chemists’ Society.

Victor’s Expertise:

  • Antimicrobial interventions
  • Chemical analysis and quality control
  • Formulation of chemical products for the food industry
Dana Johnson
Dana Johnson, Brewery Specialist
As a formulation chemist, Dana has developed several new Birko products, including the patented XLERATOR®, Acid Brite™ No. 2, Brute Plus™, Way-Vos™, Ultra Niter™, Cell-R-Mastr™ and many others.A home brewer since 1989, Dana is Birko’s brewing products specialist. He has authored numerous articles for Zymurgy, The New Brewer and other brewery trade publications and frequently posts on the Brewers Association Forum. He is the current vice president and Board of Governors Representative for the Master Brewers Association of the Americas (MBAA) Rocky Mountain District. Dana attended Mesa College in Grand Junction, Colo. Dana holds several patents, including a peracetic acid wastewater treatment; a hide curing additive; and a hide raceway treatment.

Dana’s Expertise:

  • Custom chemicals for craft brewers
  • Keg cleaning
  • Brewery clean-in-place (CIP)
Erin Cain-Helfrich
Erin Cain-Helfrich, Quality Manager / Regulatory Specialist
Erin joined Birko in 2014 as a member of the Science Team. She has more than 10 years of experience in a lab setting, the majority of it being in Food Safety Microbiology which includes antimicrobial product development. Before joining Birko, she worked as a Human Pathogen and Plant Pathogen Lab Manager for OmniLytics, a Chemist for the City of Salt Lake City and a Microbiologist Lab Technician for Minnesota Valley Testing Labs. Erin earned a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology and a minor in Chemistry from Minnesota State University, Mankato.