Dr. Brian Nummer PhD


Page: Get your food product tested and get a “process letter” ($$)

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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 ($$).
  3. 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)
  4. Complete the paperwork required for food product submission
  5. 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.
  6. Prepare fresh product in jars and package to prevent breakage or leakage.
  7. Ship samples to Dr. Brian Nummer |  8700 Old Main Hill Logan, UT 84322 c/o Sujan Acharya
  8. You must enclose a check or samples will not be processed.  Make checks payable to USU Food Safety Extension.
  9. 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).
  10. 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.

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