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Whether it’s a  new food business in Alabama looking for assistance with its nutrition labeling or a farmer who wants to sell value-added products made from his orchards, they have an ally in the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s Food Safety and Quality Team.

While the team is now based in Auburn University’s College of Agriculture and sporting a more user friendly name, its mission has not changed.

“Our goal is to help everyone from individuals to farmers to the food industry develop the knowledge and skills to ensure a safe food supply,” said Dr. Jean Weese, Food Safety and Quality team leader.

Weese, who is also a professor in Auburn University’s Department of Poultry and Food Science, said nine regional Extension agents stationed throughout the state  deliver a number of programs that are always in high demand.

  • Nutrition Facts Labeling Service—The team will develop nutrition facts labels for food businesses for a fee.
  • Food Testing and Labeling Service—The team will test products for food businesses so that they can comply with Alabama Department of Public Health regulations for a fee.
  • ServSafe Manager Certification—Food service managers learn about foodborne illness, how to prevent it and how to train employees in food sanitation. Earn nationally accredited food safety certification.
  • Cottage Food Law Training—Alabama law allows anyone to prepare non-hazardous food such as cakes, cookies, dried herbs, jams and jellies at home and sell directly to consumers.  While these foods are not subject to inspection by the local public health department, preparers must attend a food safety course.
  • Home Food Preservation—Classes are offered across the state for individuals wanting to learn more about food preservation techniques including freezing and canning.

Dr. Paul Brown, associate director of Alabama Extension, said that the Food Safety and Quality Team fulfills a number of critical needs.

“The team is providing specialized educational programs and counseling services to food entrepreneurs,  marketers  of farm-raised products,  home-based value-added businesses  and others involved in Alabama’s expanding local foods industry,” said Brown.  “Basing the team in the College of Agriculture’s Department of Poultry and Food Science will foster closer working partnerships with university researchers in food processing and safety.

“We look forward to expanding the team’s programming efforts and its ability to serve the farmers and food-based businesses here in Alabama.”

If you are interested in learning more about how the Food Safety and Quality team can assist you, visit the team’s website at http://www.aces.edu/fcs/fspp/ .  You will find links to the team’s program offerings as well as how to identify the regional Extension agent serving your county.