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Food safety’s on the line

Marshall, Minn. — Add the mouse and the monitor to the list of tools used to ensure food safety in Minnesota.

In September, AURI and Southwest State University in Marshall rolled out an on-line Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) class. Now food processors and students can study without leaving their office or home.

“This method offers a lot of flexibility,” says AURI animal products scientist Darrell Bartholomew. “The on-line course is more convenient because participants can work at their own pace.”

Students have one month to complete the coursework, but Bartholomew says it can be completed as fast as a couple of days. But don’t let the convenience or the short timeline fool you — the instruction is every bit as rigorous as standard classes.

“(The students) have to pass a quiz, submit HACCP plans, go through HACCP steps of identifying hazards, identifying critical control points and developing monitoring procedures,” Bartholomew says. “It’s hands-on experience in developing a HACCP plan.”

Current college students can take the on-line class as part of their coursework, while non-students can earn a college credit upon successful completion. In addition to the recently completed September class, the course will be offered in November, March and May.

Bartholomew says the class is geared toward meat and poultry processors, but any food processor can gain from it and improve sanitation and good management practices. The course helps processors meet food safety standards and provides ongoing training for employees.

Bartholomew says utilizing electronic technology also gives participants access to resources they can use for their own operations. “They’ll have examples of plans to work from to use as a basis for or as a complete plan for their operation.”

College students can register for the class through Southwest State; others can register by contacting AURI at (507) 537-7440. The class is $50 for Minnesota residents, $100 for non-residents.