A food product analysis and process authority certification service from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture provides product analysis and documentation for new acidified canned food products to meet FDA requirements.

Rubén Morawicki, Ph.D, associate professor of food science for the division’s Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, initiated the service in 2017 to meet the needs of small food companies and individual entrepreneurs that want to bring new products to market.

“Large food companies have in-house labs and process authorities for this purpose,” Morawicki said. “We are the only public institution offering product analysis and process authority certification to small companies and individuals in Arkansas.”

“The service provided by Dr. Morawicki is vital to food entrepreneurs and existing small food processors,” said Jean-François Meullenet, associate vice president-agriculture and director of the Experiment Station. “This is a good example of the type of quality outreach we provide to Arkansas citizens.”

The service is offered through the Division of Agriculture’s Arkansas Food Innovation Center at the Arkansas Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Fayetteville. Information about it is available on the AFIC services website: https://afic.uark.edu/services/

Morawicki said he reviewed 40 products in 2018, the first full year the service was offered. As of early June, he’s already matched that number of products.

“Most clients are small food companies and first-time entrepreneurs,” he said. “We also have a couple Arkansas companies that process food products for individual clients.”

Canned food products include foods packaged for room temperature storage in cans or jars. Morawicki said FDA regulations separate them into two groups — low acid canned products, like green beans and other vegetables, and acidic products, which includes most pickles, barbecue sauce, salsa and similar foods.

Morawicki provides product analysis and process authority certification for acidic canned products. He reviews the list of ingredients and clients’ descriptions of the processing, and analyzes the products for pH, vacuum and other food safety criteria.

Once the review and testing is complete, he issues a letter that contains analysis data and either certifies the product’s compliance or recommends adjustments in the processing.

Clients enter test results from the letter into an online FDA filing system and also attach the letter. Morawicki said he can also help clients fill out the application for submission to the FDA.

Before Morawicki began the service, he said, Arkansas entrepreneurs had to go out of state to find process authority certification services. Fees could run as high as $500 per product for out-of-state clients, he said.

The Division of Agriculture charges $200 per product, Morawicki said.

“This service is especially beneficial to smaller companies and individual entrepreneurs that have no internal labs,” Morawicki said.

For more information, visit the AFIC website, https://afic.uark.edu, or email Morawicki at rmorawicki@uark.edu..

To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uark.edu. Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch and Instagram at ArkAgResearch.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without discrimination.

— Fred Miller is with the U of A System Division of Agriculture.