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Dr Michael Eskin

UM food chemist selected for Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame

June 19, 2024 — 

Dr. Michael Eskin, a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Food and Human Nutritional Sciences at the University of Manitoba, will be inducted into the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame this November.

With a career spanning over five decades, Eskin has made remarkable contributions to the international field of food chemistry. His crowning achievement lies in his groundbreaking work on the early development and ongoing refinement of canola oil, now ranked as the third most consumed edible oil worldwide.

During the 1970’s, Eskin’s pioneering research in partnership with Canadian plant breeders was critical to the overall successful development of canola oil. His scientific breakthroughs elevated canola oil research, beginning with his early work on enzyme characterization and improved frying performance. Eskin also studied the sensory qualities and preservation of canola oil in food, emphasizing its nutritional benefits and shelf-life characteristics. His examination of the antioxidants and vitamins within canola seeds, meal, and oil has defined their positive impacts on human and animal nutrition.

Eskin’s work at the time led the newly formed Canola Council of Canada to commission Eskin and the late Professor Marion Vaisey-Genser to author a major booklet on the science and technology of canola oil to inform health professionals and the food industry around the world. The watershed booklet enjoyed five revisions, and was translated into French, German and Japanese, and was crucial to the successful promotion and modern-day consumption of canola oil around the world.

Today, canola oil is the #1 edible oil for Canadian consumers, and the canola industry contributes $30 billion in economic activity and over 200,000 jobs nation-wide.

“I am extremely honored by being inducted into the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame,” said Eskin.

“This was the result of being in the right place at the right time with a wonderful team which included the late Dr. Bruce McDonald, Dr. Vivan Bruce and Professor Marion Vaisey-Genser who worked so well together collaborating with Canadian breeders Drs. Baldur Stefansson and Keith Downey. We had no idea as to the enormous impact our work would have on Canadian agriculture.”

Eskin’s legacy does not end with his own research accomplishments. Through his mentorship and training, Eskin’s influence extends to the next generation of scientists, with hundreds of highly skilled individuals now serving in the Canadian agri-food industry. A prolific writer, Eskin is recognized globally as one of food science’s leading writers, from primary references and textbooks to research and trade publications.

Eskin’s achievements in the scientific and agricultural fields have been recognized with numerous accolades including being awarded the Order of Canada, the Order of Manitoba, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and last summer being inducted to the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame.

“Dr. Eskin’s impact on Canadian agriculture, and particularly on the advancement of the quintessentially Canadian crop of canola, is enormous,” said Martin Scanlon, Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, University of Manitoba. “We are truly in awe of Dr Eskin’s accomplishments, and deeply proud of his dedication to the University of Manitoba.”

Dr. Eskin, along with fellow agricultural champions Dr. Bruce Coulman, Paul Larmer and Dr. Charles Vincent will be formally inducted on November 2 at a ceremony during the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, Ontario. The Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame Association (CAHFA) honours and celebrates Canadians for outstanding contributions to the agriculture and food industry. Portraits are on display in the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame Gallery located at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.


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