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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Food Processing Conference Focuses on Safety, Nutrition Labels

LAS CRUCES -- Whether they make salsa or cider, jerky or jam, New Mexico food processors can learn more about food safety and creating nutrition labels for their products at a short course March 7-8 in Albuquerque.

"Basic Aspects of Food Labeling and Food Safety for Food Processors" will be at the Ramada Inn on Hotel Circle.

The conference is geared especially for small- to medium- scale food processors, said Martin Sancho, conference organizer and food technology specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service.

On the first day, participants will learn how they can create nutrition facts labels for their products.

"Even though small-scale processors do not really have to comply with nutrition labeling regulations because there are very specific exemptions for small operations, many of them want to do it voluntarily. They feel it is a marketing benefit for them to have the labels," Sancho said. "But small-scale food processors, in many instances, do not have the means to hire a full-time professional to do this work for them."

The second day's sessions will be devoted to information about sanitation and safe food handling.

"We want to make sure that people are doing things the right way, not only producing something tasty but also something that is safe," Sancho said.

Other topics include dealing with inspection, local and state licensing requirements and registering with the Food and Drug Administration.

The conference is co-sponsored by Extension and the FDA.

Sancho plans for the conference to be the first of a series of programs for food processors. To find out what information processors want, he has mailed 700 questionnaires along with conference brochures.

"We are trying to tailor our programs to the needs of the food processing industry in New Mexico, targeting the small- and medium-sized businesses," Sancho said.

Conference registration is $125 before Feb. 16 and $150 thereafter. For more information, call (505) 646-1283.