Food Testing Services

About our Food Testing Services and what is required

We offer a team approach to provide food testing services and specialize in working with small and start-up food businesses. While our primary mission is to support Maine and New Hampshire food businesses, we also work with businesses across the U.S. and are recognized process authorities by the FDA. Our process involves submission of your batch recipe, processing methods, and one (1) container of the product you wish to produce in the final container if possible.

Our Team

  • Kathy Dentici, Research Assistant and Laboratory Manager. Kathy conducts the food testing.
  • Dr. Beth Calder and Dr. Jason Bolton, process authorities and primary contacts for questions regarding testing, test results and process reviews. Beth and Jason review test results, formulations, processing methods submitted and write individualized and comprehensive review letters back to clients. The review letters are automatically emailed to the client as soon as they are completed.

What products can be sent to us for testing?

We typically conduct testing and process and product reviews on shelf-stable, canned foods, fermented foods, water-activity controlled dessert sauces, frostings/fillings, high moisture baked goods, and minimally processed dried food products.

What products are not covered by our testing services?

We do not conduct testing or process reviews on perishable (frozen or refrigerated foods) or meat and poultry products. We also do not provide testing for cold filled, shelf stable products except for mayonnaise. We do not provide shelf-life tests or nutritional facts labels.

Examples of tests required for certain food products:

  • Pickled foods (acidified foods) and most sauces/dressings will need both pH and water activity tests.
  • Jams, jellies, fruit butters and applesauce products will need pH, water activity and Brix tests.
  • Dessert sauces (caramel and chocolate) will need Brix and water activity tests.
  • Fermented foods will need pH and titratable acidity tests.
  • Food samples that do not typically require a review in Maine are baked goods (without dairy-based fillings/frostings); candy/confections; plain, berry-based jams/jellies; and dry mixes.

If you have any questions in regards to which tests may be required for your food product or if we can analyze your product, please contact Beth or Jason prior to submitting and paying for samples online. Please see our contact information below.

Our turnaround time is typically 5-6 weeks, but can be delayed due to holidays, our education/workshop schedules or can be impacted by the volume of products sent to us for testing. We provide these services on a part-time basis around our research, outreach, and teaching schedules. We appreciate your patience. Our laboratory observes federal holidays and will be closed on those days and weekends. The laboratory is also open during limited times after December 25 for inventory purposes and will resume our normal testing schedule on January 2.

Questions about testing?

If you have any questions whether you should send in a product for testing, which tests are required for your product, or how to start a food business in Maine, please contact Beth Calder or Jason Bolton.

Beth Calder, Ph.D.
Director of Food Testing Services
Extension Food Science Specialist
University of Maine
Cooperative Extension & School of Food and Agriculture
5735 Hitchner Hall
Orono, Maine 04469-5735
207.581.2791 or email: beth.calder@maine.edu

Jason Bolton, Ph.D.
Extension Food Safety Specialist
University of Maine
Cooperative Extension
5735 Hitchner Hall
Orono, Maine 04469-5735
207.581.1366 or email: jason.bolton@maine.edu

What is required for the review process:

  • REQUIRED: The batch recipe ingredients must be converted onto a weight basis (including fluids) and all the same unit (grams, ounces or pounds). The most accurate method is to purchase a scale that is accurate to 0.5 +/- the unit of measure to individually weigh out the ingredients.
  • The online form will require you to include your full name, company name (if applicable), email, mailing address, and phone number.
  • Your email address is required, as we will send all results electronically.
  • One product of each size container must be sent to our laboratory. The product must be packaged in the container in which it will be sold to customers. For water bath-processed foods, if you intend to sell your product in several different container sizes, please submit one (1) sample of each container size.
  • Detailed description of how each product is produced, including vegetable preparation (if applicable) and heating temperatures and times.
  • Be sure to place an identifying label on each product.
  • Include a business card or note with name and address when mailing in or dropping off samples.
  • For ready-to-eat and minimally processed foods, you may need additional microbial testing.
  • Payment: We now require payment with a credit card or electronic check made payable to the “University of Maine.” If you are having issues with your online payment or with login and password issues, please contact Michele Lodgek at 207.581.2721 or michele.lodgek@maine.edu.

We now have a new online system to submit recipes, processing methods, and to pay online.

If you are new to the system:

  • Visit Getting Started for instructions on how to create a new account and fill out the order form.

If you are an existing client:

Please review the information on what is required. When product formulations and processing methods are not submitted or paid correctly, this delays our ability to provide test results back to our clients in a timely manner. Please contact us first if you have any questions. 

Our testing prices, effective Oct. 1, 2018 to Sept. 30, 2019:

In-state: Out-of-State:
Test: Pricing Test: Pricing
pH $25.00 pH $40.00
Water activity $25.00 Water activity $40.00
Brix $25.00 Brix $40.00
Titratable Acidity $25.00 Titratable Acidity $40.00
Microbial analysis $65.00 Microbial analysis $90.00
Water phase salt $45.00 Water phase salt $55.00
Least sterilizing value $25.00 Least sterilizing value $40.00

Confidentiality note: Submitted recipes are kept strictly confidential. However, test results will be shared with regulatory agencies as part of the product review process.

If you prefer to deliver samples in person at the Orono campus, please contact Melissa Libby Babcock to schedule a time to drop off your products. She can be reached at 207.581.2788 or melissa.Libby1@maine.edu. If you cannot reach Melissa, please contact Sheila Vaillancourt at 207.581.3181, sheila.vaillancourt@maine.edu or Angela Hart at 207.581.2811, angela.hart@maine.edu. Melissa is located at 134 Hitchner Hall and can receive food products from 7:30am to 4:00pm (M-F) and Sheila and Angela are located at 104 Libby Hall and can receive food products from 8:30am to 4:30pm (M-F).

If you decide to mail your product(s), please carefully pack containers (to prevent breakage during shipping) and mail to:

Note: If you are shipping fermented foods, they must be mailed with gel packs.

Kathy Dentici
University of Maine
School of Food and Agriculture, Room 351
5735 Hitchner Hall, Orono, Maine 04469-5735

Other Resources