When manufacturing shelf-stable acidified foods such as salsas, pickles, dressings, and sauces, federal requirements state that the operation must be supervised by someone who has successfully completed a course known as "Better Process Control School" or "BPCS". Some other types of food operations are also required to be overseen by someone with BPCS training. For example, low acid canned foods (processed in a retort) and aseptic processing systems also require oversight by someone who has taken a BPCS course.
The webpage of Washington State University's Food Processing program has some helpful background material about BPCS. (Visit https://foodprocessing.wsu.edu/extension/training/bpcs/ for more information.)
Similarly, the UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology also has some useful BPCS information. (https://ucfoodsafety.ucdavis.edu/training/better-process-control-schools)
Most institutions that offer BPCS courses have two options available: an abbreviated version that focuses on what's required for acidified foods and the full version that also covers thermal processing of low-acid canned foods and container closure evaluation. The course, when taken in-person, typically takes 2 days or 4 days depending on whether you need just the the acidified foods part or the whole thing.
In the past, attending the class has sometimes been challenging because it was only offered once a year and often required overnight travel. Online BPCS courses were not very common. As of late 2019 we knew of only a couple of places that had an online version of BPCS available. However, now because of the COVID-19 pandemic, online BPCS courses are in higher demand and there are more options than ever before. Many courses that were traditionally available only by attending in-person are now offered to remote learners.
Below is a list of a few places where you may receive BPCS training, either through an online training system (which allows participants to start and stop as their time allows) or through a virtual program using Zoom or similar videoconferencing tools. We'll be updating this list as new information becomes available.
The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture
Consumer Brands Association
(Note: this is for acidified foods only, low acid canned foods and closure eval is not included)
University of Georgia
All of these institutions are approved by the FDA and attending a BPCS will provide the food manufacturer with practical applications of the principles of acidified food processing.
Last Updated: 08/21/2020