Writer: Kevin Robinson-Avila
ALBUQUERQUE - Food processors can earn required certification to produce and package acidified foods such as salsa and pickles at a four-day class May 17-20 in Las Cruces.
The Better Process Control School is co-sponsored by New Mexico State University and Northern New Mexico Community College. It's officially approved by the Food and Drug Administration, which requires commercial food processors to complete food safety training before they manufacture acidified foods.
"This is a certified training course that offers step-by-step instruction on the safe processing and packaging of acidified foods," said Nancy Flores, a food technology specialist with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service. "We'll teach participants about federal regulations and how to comply with them."
To avoid botulism and other forms of contamination, processors must make sure food products have adequate acidity before canning, Flores said. With low-acid foods such as green beans, peas and corn, processors must add acidity using ingredients such as lemon juice, or use pressure canning.
"Course participants will learn about optimum levels of acidity for safe canning," Flores said. "We'll teach them how to measure acidity levels and how to increase acidity when handling low-acid foods."
The course includes 16 classes that cover the microbiology of acidified foods, instruments to measure acidity levels, record keeping, the safe handling and sealing of metal and non-metal containers, high-pressure canning known as retort canning, and sanitation. Participants will be tested after each class. Exams can include up to 40 questions. A minimum score of 70 is required on each test to achieve certification.
The course will be held at NMSU's Corbett Center. Registration costs $475 per person, which includes course textbooks, instruction and testing. Students pay $100.
Registration begins at 8 a.m. May 17. The school ends at 5 p.m. May 20. Participants should reserve a seat in advance, even if registering at the door. To preregister, visit the College of Agriculture and Home Economics World Wide Web site at http://spectre.nmsu.edu/dept/welcome.html?t=homeec.
For more information, or if you are an individual with a disability in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate, call Gloria Hernandez at (505) 646-2198 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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