How do I get my food product tested by a process authority?
Disclaimer: Acid/acidified foods analyses are provided as a service to Utah food businesses and to those in other states. Costs are kept to a minimum wherever possible. As an outreach service, testing and process letters may take more time than you would like (1-4 weeks). If this is unacceptable – please look for another option.
- Ask questions by email at any time. (Please note that response time varies based on how busy I am – sorry). It is acceptable to send a follow up email if you have not heard anything in more than a week.
- You must have arrived at your final recipe/formulation for your food product. Be aware that all changes must be resubmitted as a new product ($$).
- Be sure your food product meets these requirements:
- ≤ pH 4.5 to pH 4.2 for extended (195°F 15-30 min.) thermal process
- ≤ pH 4.1 for moderate thermal process (180°F 2 min)
- ≤ pH 4.0 for juices for a moderate thermal process (180°F 2 min)
- ≤ pH 3.8 with 1.5% acetic acid AND 0.1% sodium benzoate for cold fill process
- ≤ pH 3.3 for cold fill process without formulation restrictions
- ≤ Aw (water activity) 0.85 for hot or cold fill process without pH requirement (sugar syrups)(we can test your Aw for you)
- Complete the paperwork required for food product submission
- Get a firm price quote after submitting form. There is a bulk sample discount. Usually, 1 sample is $150 and 2 or more is $75 per sample. Six or more samples may be less. Food Manufacturers located with a business address within the state of Utah are $50 (all work is provided via Utah State University for instate operators).
- Prepare fresh product in jars and package to prevent breakage or leakage.
- Ship samples to Dr. Brian Nummer | 702 Eagle View Drive Providence, UT 84332 or to 8700 Old Main Hill Logan, UT 84322 (as instructed).
- Send check with samples or be prepared to pay via credit card prior to receiving Process Letter(s). We use SQUARE invoices to ask you for payment.
- Samples will be analyzed and process letter(s) created in 1-4 weeks. The time always depends on our lab and Dr. Nummer’s schedule.
- Feel free to inquire on your samples at any time. Email is the preferred method. Sorry, but DO NOT call and do not email more than weekly for updates.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Do my samples have to be in their original containers and how much is needed? A: No. Send them in any container that is sealed and prevent breakage or leakage. At least 3-4 ounces is needed.
Q: Why is weight in grams preferred and can I just send my recipe in “cup” measurements? A: The ratio of ingredients is important to a food products safety. When grams are used, it is easy to review formulations. Providing recipes or formulations by volume is very hard to work with.
Q: Why must I provide the actual recipe and and is it safe with you? A: It is not possible to establish the safety of a food product without the exact recipe. You may (encouraged) list dry spices with the exception of salt as “spices”.
Q: Which of the three paperwork forms is the right one? A: Any. Three types are provided to accommodate different methods to complete forms.
Q: I am in a hurry. Will you speed the analysis process up? A: Generally no. We are simply not equipped for rapid turnaround. This is due to the fact that Dr Nummer travels often and graduate students have research and coursework. On occasion rush service may be offered at $150 per sample.
Q: I have a food product with a pH greater than 4.6. Can you provided a thermal process that allows ambient storage? A: NO. Foods with a pH above 4.6 (including tea and coffee beverages) are a risk for botulism and need special high pressure processing (like pressure canning). This is not something a small food manufacturer can tackle on their own. There is one exception. Foods with a water activity at or below 0.85 like sugar syrups can be heat processed similar to acid foods.
Q: I have a food in oil product. Is that safe? A: The food in the oil MUST be acidified first. Often a split sample is needed of this type of food. A sample of the acidified food (no oil) and a finished sample of the acidified food in oil is required.
Q: What about mustards? I cant heat a mustard (thermally process)? A: There are some references for safe cold packaging of mustard.
Q: Who owns a process letter? A: Generally the process letter is specific to the owner of the food product or the rightful owner of a recipe. If a third party (e.g. co-packer) submits the paperwork and pays for the process letter, then those fees may be passed on to the product owner. If a product (recipe) owner asks for a copy of their food product analysis, I will provide it to them regardless of who submitted paperwork and who paid for the service. In a similar vein, a process letter should be written referencing the product owner and not any co-packer or third party.
Q: Are there any other available Process Authorities in Utah or around the country? A: Utah – No. Around the country there are some 15-20 that might be available to assist you. Nearly all are from Land-grant Universities with similar tight schedules and slow turn-around times. Several no longer provide this service due to the demand on their time.