Jeff Hunter, Utah State University
Aggie Creamery employees prepare Aggie Ice Cream for distribution in the newly renovated Gary H. Richardson Dairy Products Laboratory.

LOGAN — Utah State University’s Gary H. Richardson Dairy Products Laboratory is back in business following a four-month, $900,000 upgrade.

“It was actually a very long winter,” Aggie Creamery manager Dave Irish said. “But there’s nothing but positives with what we did. It was long, and it was stressful and there were a few glitches, but I’m pleased with what we have now. Everyone is.”

The shutdown meant no new Aggie Ice Cream or cheese was produced and stocks were limited to the extra-large supply built up before the project began.

Irish said the Aggie Ice Cream store ran low on several flavors but still had plenty of Aggie Blue Mint, huckleberry and vanilla left in reserve in the facility’s recently expanded freezer by the time production restarted.

“But we’re back and up and running again, and we really appreciate everyone’s patience while we were shut down,” Irish said. “It was a necessary thing, and we made some really substantial improvements. It’s really the first time that we’ve shut the dairy products lab down in 40 years.”

The remodel, which took about three weeks longer than scheduled, was set in motion due to regulations mandated by the Food and Drug Adminstration’s Food Safety Modernization Act.

Funding was provided by a bill that passed the Utah Legislature in 2018.

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The floor of the laboratory, which is managed by the Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Sciences Department in the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, previously contained 34 drains, none of which could be cleaned out. During the remodel, the floor and the old drains were removed and 17 new drains equipped with a lid and strainer baskets were installed.

The floor was then replaced and topped with new tile, while the ceiling above, which used to be more than 20 feet high, was dropped nearly 8 feet, allowing new piping to come out of the ceiling rather than floor up, creating fewer obstacles for employees and equipment.