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Teachable Moments

Carissa Nath’s world is filled with teachable moments. As meats scientist at AURI’s Marshall office and operator of the organization’s meat laboratory, Nath interacts with a wide range of Minnesota clients looking to develop or refine food products.

Nath works with dozens of clients each year on a range of product development needs. Whether it’s formulation for a new food item, ingredient sourcing or helping businesses connect with other resources such as co-packers, Nath’s services are available to give entrepreneurs and existing Minnesota businesses a boost.

However, AURI assistance goes beyond helping to develop something new. Each interaction also provides an opportunity to drive home an important message:

“We work a lot with clients to reiterate the message or importance of food safety with their product,” Nath says.

Much of the scientific, technical assistance Nath and other AURI scientists offer in food product development relates to food safety. The protocols and processes determined at the AURI lab are part of the business’s best management practices.

“Especially when we are working with shelf-stable products, we go over everything from pH to water activity within that product,” Nath says. “Those are important components in order to create a safe product.”

From its inception, AURI has provided a unique resource for Minnesota companies. Not only does AURI offer facilities to help with new product development, it also provides the needed industry expertise to go along with them. Experts like Nath share important information gleaned from their training and knowledge of the industry.

“One-on-one interaction with scientists helps to reinforce the importance of safe food handling techniques,” Nath says.

Because many AURI clients create consumable products, safe production and handling is an integral part of any AURI assistance on food projects.

“Food safety should always be top of mind,” Nath contends. “The hands-on interaction with scientists is unique, not only for product development, but also for the food safety components.”

In order to protect consumers from food-borne illness, entrepreneurs must comply with a variety of regulations. AURI training includes assistance in navigating those guidelines. “For our clients, being able to talk with scientists and understand how their product and process fits into current regulations is something that makes AURI unique and really provides value to clients,” Nath adds.

While food safety instruction is an integral part of AURI’s technical assistance, Nath also helps coordinate and participate in formal training sessions several times a year. AURI collaborates with the University of Minnesota Meat Science department to provide Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), sanitation and auditing workshops for the state’s meat processors. The two-day sessions give processors a thorough exposure to safe food handling practices and requirements.

More information on the sessions and AURI’s capabilities is available at

HACCP Sanitation and Auditing Workshop

Topics Include:

  • Impact of Food Safety on the Industry
  • Introduction to Food Microbiology
  • Pre-Requisite Sanitation Programs: GMPs and SSOPs
  • The 7 Principles of HACCP
  • Chemical, Biological and Physical Hazards
  • The Development and Implementation of a HACCP Plan
  • Labeling and Allergens
  • Minnesota State Inspection Program
  • Food Defense Plans
  • Additional Resources for Meat and Food Processors

To learn more or to register, visit

November 17-18, 2016

University of Minnesota

St. Paul Campus