How do I get my food product tested by a process authority?
Disclaimer: Acid/acidified foods analyses are provided as a service. Costs are kept to a minimum wherever possible. Testing and process letters may take more time than you would like (1-4 weeks >> sometimes up to 8 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. But, please remember, we cannot be your product consultant. Our role is to ensure safe foods via education and training.
- 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.
- Prepare fresh product in jars and package to prevent breakage or leakage.
- Ship samples to Dr. Brian Nummer | 8700 Old Main Hill Logan, UT 84322 c/o Sujan Acharya
- You must enclose a check or samples will not be processed. Make checks payable to USU Food Safety Extension.
- Samples will be analyzed and process letter(s) created in 1-4 weeks, during some very busy times at USU, it may take up to 8 weeks (sorry).
- Feel free to inquire on your samples at any time after a week has passed. Email is the preferred method. Sorry, but DO NOT call and do not email more than weekly for updates.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Why does it take so long? A: We do this as a service, not as a business. Many small food businesses cannot find a process authority. So, we fill that gap. But testing and process letters are done above and beyond our 100% day jobs.
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. The online form has been discontinued.
Q: I am in a hurry. Will you speed the analysis process up? A: Generally no. We are simply not equipped for rapid turnaround. 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 can’t 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. Some no longer provide this service due to the high demand on their time.