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National Center for Home Food Processing and Preservation

Investigators
Kerr, William; Harrison, Mark; Harrison, Judy; Andress, Elizabeth
Institutions
University of Georgia
Start date
2000
End date
2003
Objective
The National Center for Home Food Processing and Preservation will be a network among home food safety experts and provide needed new research on home food preservation. It will also regularly update the Extension database and publications or other recommendations to insure that audience needs for this type of food safety information continue to be met.

Five specific goals for activities of the National Center will best meet the needs for providing scientific, research-based recommendations for home food processing and preservation to the public.

  1. Review recent research conducted in the public and private sectors on home food processing and preservation techniques, and formulate recommendations for new recipes and guidelines, as well as adoption or adaptation of existing recommendations.
  2. Update the current guidelines for home food processing and preservation, incorporating new or revised recommendations as appropriate.
  3. Develop and test new recipes (products) and guidelines on home food processing and preservation methods that emphasize: (a) popular consumer specialty foods such as salsas, relishes, sauces and chutneys, ethnic foods and new varieties of fruits and vegetables; (b) safety guidelines for processing food in community cannery settings; and (c) applications of updated technology, such as microwave blanching for food freezing.
  4. Establish distribution mechanisms for dissemination of guidelines, including a new interactive website with scientifically-based information and guidelines for home food processing and preservation, a national model Master Food Preserver Program, web-based instruction modules, and a national teleconference.
  5. Identify areas where further research in home food processing and preservation techniques is needed. Award additional subcontracts as research needs are identified, as a means of increasing multi-institutional collaborations in years 2 through 4.
More information
1. Critical reviews of scientific literature related to home food processing will be conducted and summarized to provide the basis of current recommendations and mapping future directions. Input will be collected from the Cooperative Extension System and other food safety educators to identify problem areas with current recommendations for home food processing and preservation. Electronic versions of the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning and Complete Guide to Home Freezing will be updated as needed; appropriateness of other types of publications will be evaluated.

2. Challenge studies using foodborne pathogens will be conducted for questionable recipe and preservation methods to insure that they conform to current food safety recommendations. Storage stability and safety of new recipes for specialty foods will be determined. Existing food product processes for community canneries will be reviewed; research will be conducted for new product processes to accommodate modern can sizes, equipment in use in community canning settings, and consumer food preferences. Adequacy of microwave blanching recommendations for freezing foods at home will be studied.

3. An interactive website will be developed with scientifically-based information and guidelines for home food processing and preservation. An interactive website managed by the National Center will insure consistency in recommendations among entries in the database, allow for rapid updating and correcting of information as needed, and provide a site for email access to a variety of home food processing and preservation experts. New web-based instruction modules will be developed and evaluated.

4. A national model Master Food Preserver Program, with a Master Food Preserver Handbook, Extension Educator Handbook and slide set will be developed. A national teleconference will be offered for training state and county Cooperative Extension System educators, Master Food Preserver community volunteers, and other interested educators using the new curriculum and emphasizing the recent National Center findings. An instructional video series demonstrating various methods of home food processing and preservation will be produced. 5. Gaps in knowledge and areas for future research in home food processing and preservation will be identified. Additional subcontracts will be included as research needs are identified, as a means of increasing multi-institutional collaborations in years 2 through 4.

Home food preservation remains an important activity. It is critical to provide those involved in the practice with access to the most reliable information available concerning food safety and food quality. A National Center for Home Food Preservation will conduct research in food microbiology and quality to validate new and existing preservation methods. Traditional and nontraditional methods will be used to disseminate the information obtained.

2001/01 TO 2001/12
The National Center for Home Food Processing and Preservation is a multi-institutional effort with The University of Georgia (UGA) and Alabama A&M (AAM) University as the primary institutions. Multiple strategies for making safe food preservation recommendations available to professional educators and consumers are being used: critical literature reviews; original research; updating of existing USDA consumer publications; and establishing additional distribution channels for dissemination of guidelines, including a new website with recommended guidelines for home food preservation, a model Master Food Preserver Program and web-based instruction modules. Data from the following studies are in analysis and/or preparation for publications: a nationwide survey of home preservation (canning and freezing) practices; microbiota of fresh herbs often used in home processed products; product and process development for eight newly developed chutneys, salsas and/or relish products; heat penetration work comparing use of 6, 8 and 17 quart pressure retorts for stewed tomatoes; and, a survey of issues faced by community canneries. A technical bulletin with literature review and critical preservation points on curing meats is in peer review. Similar technical bulletins on drying, pickling and fermenting have been started. A review of current research and recommendations on jerky is in peer review. Identification of existing recommended curing processes is underway, as are studies on microwave blanching of vegetables. Other activities, still in beginning stages, include: development of a model Master Food Preserver curriculum; studies to characterize accuracy of available dial pressure gauges and calibration methods; and additional critical literature searches and reviews related to remaining methods of home food preservation. The Principal Investigators have been providing regular email and telephone response to food preservation questions from state and county Extension staff in many states, as well as to individual consumers nationwide and industry representatives as requests are received. Finalization of the USDA Complete Guide to Home Freezing and publicizing of the National Center's website are the most immediate short term goals, followed by continual dissemination of currently recommended procedures and updates on Center activities via the website. Seven abstracts were submitted to, and accepted for presentation at, the Institute of Food Technologists 2002 Annual Meeting.

2001/01 TO 2001/12
Providing timely answers to consumers processing food at home usually requires multidisciplinary research and/or interpretation of existing scientific literature. The Center provides a network among home food safety experts with various specialities to meet these needs. It also serves as a national outreach mechanism for sharing recommendations which minimize the risks of foodborne illness and economic loss from spoiled food products

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
View this project
Project number
GEO-0005461
Accession number
186521
Categories
Natural Toxins
Bacterial Pathogens
Commodities
Produce