RFA Technical Webcasts


The RFA hosts quarterly Technical Webcasts on timely food safety and regulatory topics affecting
the prepared foods industry. The Webcasts are live, interactive events that you can join from your office!

See below for details on the latest Technical Webcast.

RFA Members can access slide presentations from past Technical Webcasts at anytime in the Member Center.

July 27, 2022 RFA Technical Webcast:

“It May Be Called a Challenge Study,
But That Doesn't Mean It Has to be Challenging!


REGISTER HERE for this live, interactive Webcast that you can join from your office!

Non-member registration form

Date and Time:

     * Wednesday, July 27, 2022, from 2:00 p.m.- 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time 

      (1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. Central, 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m. Mountain, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Pacific)


Successfully Navigating The Design and Execution of Challenge Studies

Many of the foods we eat every day are able to support the survival (and possibly the growth) of foodborne microbial pathogens or spoilage microorganisms during the course of their shelf life. To counteract the viability of these microorganisms in these foods, manufacturers will often employ control measures that involve managing the intrinsic factors (e.g. water activity, pH, nutrient availability, antimicrobial content, etc.) and extrinsic factors (e.g. packaging, atmosphere, storage temperature, etc.) of the food product. However, the extent to which these intrinsic and extrinsic factors inhibit the growth and survival of these microorgansims is generally not well understood unless a challenge study is performed. In such a study, a microorganism (or cocktail of microorganisms) is intentionally inoculated into a food product in a controlled laboratory setting, the product is packaged and held under its normal storage conditions, and the viability of the microorganism(s) is tracked over time with enuemration procedures that are carried out in the laboratory. One may also choose to evaluate several different formulations or holding conditions simultaneously in order to decipher which one provides the best results. The information gained from a challenge study can thus be very valuable to the end user. It can allow them to make important decisions with regard to how the product gets formulated, how it gets packaged, how it is stored, etc. with regard to its ability to inhibit microorganism viability.

In this webinar, we will cover how a laboratory can work with you to successfully design and execute a challenge study. We will cover all aspects of study design from choosing the right target organisms for inoculation, to how the samples will be packaged and handled in the laboratory, and how enumeration information can be gleaned during the course of the product’s shelf life. This will also entail how data are analyzed, how interpretations are made, and how you will be empowered to make decisions regarding the formulation, packaging, and storage of your product. Our aim is for you to walk away from this presentation fully equipped with resources to be able to initiate the process of conducting a challenge study with a contract laboratory and to understand how to interpret the information you get back from the laboratory when the study is complete. Remember, it may be called a challenge study, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be challenging!


Alex Brandt, Chief Scientific Officer, Food Safety Net Services

Dr. Alex Brandt serves as the Chief Science Officer for Food Safety Net Services, A Certified Group Company, and has been with the organization since 2014. In this role, Dr. Brandt directs the scientific and technical affairs of the organization, which includes leading the team that conducts contract research studies and the team that provides technical and regulatory guidance. Dr. Brandt received his B.S. in Food Science & Technology from Texas A&M University, his M.S. in Food Science & Technology from Texas A&M University, and his Ph.D. in Animal Science with a specialization in Food Microbiology from Texas Tech University. Dr. Brandt is a member of the International Association for Food Protection, AOAC International, and the American Meat Science Association and serves on the Food Safety Advisory Council for United Egg Producers. A Texas native, Dr. Brandt, his wife Samantha, and their son Liam (1), reside in San Antonio, Texas.


How does the webcast work?

It's easy and convenient!  A virtual seminar is one that you can "attend" and participate in right from your offices. There is no travel time, and now provided at NO COST to RFA members!

The RFA Technical Webcast will include live audio along with a slide presentation on the Web. You just need a phone connection for the audio and an Internet connection.  

In addition, the webcast will allow you to comment and ask questions at specified times during the event using your phone.

You can invite staff members to listen and participate too!  To get the most out of a webcast, it is recommended that you have no more than five people at any one computer connection. If you have multiple locations, please register each location separately.


The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) and the Research Chefs Association (RCA) have confirmed that continuing education credits are available for numerous RFA technical functions. Depending on the specific educational criteria of these two organizations, credits will be accepted for attendance at 1) RFA Webinars, 2) the RFA Fall Symposium and 3) the RFA Annual Conference.

Contact the RFA office for more information or for proof of participation.


Registration Information:

The cost for this event is as follows:

  • RFA Members: NO CHARGE - Now Included as a Member Benefit!

  • Non-Members: $310 per computer/audio connection

To attend the meeting, you can either:

  • Just send an email to [email protected] to register. There is no cost for members.  Nonmembers: checks must be made payable to the Refrigerated Foods Association. Payment should be received no later than July 25, 2022.

Once you have registered for the meeting, you will receive an email message inviting you to attend the web conference with instructions on how to attend. This message will provide the information that you need to join the meeting.

If you have questions about the RFA Technical Webcasts, please e-mail the RFA office at [email protected]