‘Pickle School’ focuses on food safety

When we think of pickles, it’s unlikely that we picture the series of legal and bureaucratic hoops necessary to bring them to market.  However, last week in Asheville a group of potential food entrepreneurs dove head first into the challenge of re-imagining pickles in just such a context as they participated in N.C. State University’s three-day-long Better Process Control for Acidified Foods Course, affectionately referred to as “Pickle School.”

Pickle School, which also includes salsa, tomato sauces, barbecue sauces, hot sauces and just about any other acid-based canned food, shies away from teaching the techniques and recipes used for pickling. Instead the course focuses on how to achieve regulatory compliance with the Food and Drug Administration. Safety is the key focus of the course, ensuring that food ventures of all sizes protect their customers from poorly packaged and poorly preserved foods that can ultimately jeopardize the safety of consumers. A major component of the curriculum included preparing a new product for legal sale under both state and federal regulations; a process that involves a number of steps, tests and filings.

Dr. Fletcher Arritt of N.C. State’s Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition delivered the course with the help of Allison Smathers. Arritt’s mix of humor and storytelling kept students engaged as they covered topics ranging from the common food-borne pathogens to the anatomy of a glass jar.  Students came from both ends of the food spectrum, from those working to fill training requirements for their jobs as managers or supervisors at major food processing operations to those pursuing faint dreams of selling at a local farmers market.

At the conclusion of the course, students satisfied FDA training requirements to supervise the manufacturing and packaging of acidified foods. Many of the course’s students will spend the next several months refining their process with the assistance of Arritt to bring new products to market.

SHARE
About Gina Smith
Gina Smith is the Mountain Xpress Food section editor and writer. She can be reached at gsmith@mountainx.com.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.