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UC Food Safety
University of California
UC Food Safety

FAQ for BPCS Online Course

Back to the BPCS Online Registration & Information Page

Will this course meet the same requirements as the in-person BPCS course, and is it approved by the FDA and USDA?

Can I take this course if I live in a different state than California?

How do I know if I need to take this course?

Which chapters do I need to take?

Do you offer an online “Acidified Foods Only” course?

Do you offer this course in Spanish?

If I take less chapters than the 16 in the full course, is there a price difference in the course?

Help!  I need to take this right away and get my certificate!  My business depends on it! Why is no one available immediately for email/phone support?! 

Can I get the textbook shipped to me in a hurry, like overnight?  

Can I use someone else's textbook that I have borrowed, or one that I have bought separately, so I can start the online portion right away?

Why don't the highlighting instructions in the videos match up with the textbook?

Can I take the course if I am located outside of the United States?

Can more than one person register using the same email address?

How long does the course take?  What is the shortest time that I can finish it in?

How soon after I finish the course will I get my Certificate of Completion?

Once I login, will I always have access to the video modules for the course?

Can I find out which answers to the quizzes I got wrong?

Can I come back at a later date to take additional chapters of the course?

Does the Better Process Control School assist with filing of scheduled processes for my company, and where do I find a Process Authority? 

Can I ask you questions about my specific product and its pH and other characteristics?

How much experience do I have to have with using a computer?

Which browser should I use on my computer to view the course?

Can I use an Apple iPad or other mobile device to log in and view the course?

How long is the certification good for?  Will it expire?

What if I change companies in the future?  Is the certificate still valid or do I need to get a new one?

In a small operation, do we need more than one supervisor to take the course and be certified?

Where do I get more information about the process of starting my own company?

 

Will this course meet the same requirements as the in-person BPCS course?

Yes.  The online course, just like our in-person course, is taught by instructors that have met FDA and USDA approval.  We use the GMA’s book, "Canned Foods - Principles of Thermal Process Control, Acidification and Container Closure Evaluation, 7th edition" for our instruction. This meets the FDA's regulations in 21 CFR 108, 113, and 114 for low-acid and acidified low-acid canned foods that became  effective May 15, 1979.  These FDA regulations also apply to low-acid canned pet foods.  The course also meets similar regulations and training requirements, 9 CFR 318.300 and 381.300 for thermally processed meat and poultry products, which were implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) on June 19, 1987.

Can I take this course if I live in a different state than California?

Yes, it was designed to comply with Federal laws and not state laws.  People from all 50 states and about 40 other countries have taken this very course at UC Davis.

How do I know if I need to take this course?

Many people are informed by regulatory personnel that they need to take the course in order to sell their shelf-stable thermally processed food product.  Here is a brief and handy determination guide for you, from Dr. Linda J. Harris: http://ucfoodsafety.ucdavis.edu/files/192878.pdf 

Which chapters do I need to take?

You must take the six chapters required of everyone for course certification (Chapters 2- 8).  PLUS: if commercial sterility of your product is based in part on acidification you must pass the “Acidified Foods” (Chapter 3) chapter.  You must also take the appropriate container closure exam for your product (example, “Glass Containers”, Chapter 16, or one of the other 3 (Aseptic,  Chapter 14; Metal, Chapter 15; or Flexible, Chapter 17).  This would be a total of 8 chapters you would need to take if you do not need the retort chapters.  If you work with a particular retort system, then you should take that chapter as well.

We do urge participants to take as many chapters as they are able, in case they work somewhere in the future which uses different processes.  You will not be allowed to return at a later date to take additional chapter without paying again.

Do you offer an online “Acidified Foods Only” course?

No, but as stated above, course enrollees can choose to only take the chapters required for processing acidified food.  This will be 8 chapters instead of 16 chapters. See the answer to the question directly above and see the registration page for details.  The 8 chapters for the "Acidified Foods Only" course are Chapters 2 - 8, and at least one from Chapters 14 - 17.

Do you offer this course in Spanish?

No, we do not offer any of our BPCS courses in Spanish.  But you can look at GMA's national BPCS course listing here for offerings in Spanish and other languages.

If I take less chapters than the 16 in the full course, is there a price difference in the course?

No.

Help!  I need to take this right away and get my certificate!  My business depends on it! Why is no one available immediately for email/phone support?

We are very aware that this is a mandated course for your business.  We try to return emails and calls within 2 business days of receiving them.  Our staff is part-time and has other duties as well.  Please also keep in mind that you do have to wait for your textbook to be shipped to you before starting the online portion of the course.    Please email our course staff at bpcsonline@ucdavis.edu for all questions not answered on this page.  (530) 752-5901 is our phone.   

 Can I get the textbook shipped to me in a hurry, like overnight?  

You can, only if you or your company has a FedEx account.  UC Davis has a shipping contract with FedEx.  If you have your own account (or you create one at FedEx.com), we can bill to recipient.  Please email your FedEx account number to us at bpcsonline@ucdavis.edu immediately after completing your registration payment.  Otherwise, we ship FedEx Ground for domestic or FedEx International outside the U.S.

Can I use someone else's textbook that I have borrowed, or one that I have bought separately, so I can start the online portion right away?

Sorry, but our course price includes the cost of the textbook, and we ask that you use a new one that has not been previously highlighted.  We do not allow students to start the online portion before receiving their textbook in the mail.  

Why don't the highlighting instructions in the videos match up with the textbook?

We are now using the improved 8th edition of the Canned Foods textbook.  You will find the specific information generally about 2 pages earlier than the last edition.  So if the instructor tells you to highlight a sentence on page 143, start looking for it on page 141.  In general, Ch. 17 (Flexible & Semirigid Containers) has the most changes from the previous 7th edition and will be the most challenging to highlight.  

Can I take the course if I am located outside of the United States?

Yes.  Please make sure that we have a valid street shipping address or P.O. Box number for your textbook to be sent to you, and also a phone number.  It will be sent via FedEx International to your street address, or US. Postal Mail through Customs to your P.O. Box (takes longer than FedEx.)

Can more than one person register using the same email address?

No; you must have one unique email address per person.  It can either be a work or a personal email.  If you do not have one, we recommend using Google (gmail) or Yahoo! Mail; you can sign up for a free account using these services.

How long does the course take?  What is the shortest time that I can finish it in?

We ask that you finish the course within 3 months of your initial log-in date.  You will receive an emailed reminder when the date is nearing.  The quickest possible time for you to finish it would be in about seven days, depending on your motivation and your available time.  If you do not finish the course in 3 months, by the time of your deadline date, and if you have not requested an extension for a valid reason, you will have to pay another $400 to re-enroll and start the course over again.

How soon after I finish the course will I get my Certificate of Completion?

We try to email the PDF version of your certificate within 48 hours of receiving your email telling us that you are finished.  Please note this does not include weekends or holidays.  Your scores and required chapters are double-checked.  The hard copy follows in the postal mail after Dr. Harris signs it.  The PDF copy will suffice as the official copy until you receive the hard copy in the mail.  A hard copy is also sent to your supervisor, if you have listed one.

Once I login, will I always have access to the video modules for the course?

 No.  You’ll have access for three months only.

Can I find out which answers to the quizzes I got wrong?

Due to course enrollment volume, we cannot provide everyone's incorrect answers.  We refer you back to the videos and book to try to figure out what you got wrong.  You're also welcome to re-take any quiz to try to improve your score (up to 3 times total for each chapter), although it pulls a slightly different set of questions for the quiz each time.  

Can I come back at a later date to take additional chapters of the course?

No, we would prefer that you take all the chapters that you think you will need within the 3-month period.  If you want to return to take more chapters, you’ll have to pay the course fee again.

Does the Better Process Control School assist with filing of scheduled processes for my company, and where do I find a Process Authority?

 No; the topic is discussed briefly in the course, but the filing is to be done with the FDA through your state or local agency.  Your State or Local Agency should also be able to serve as a Process Authority.  For example, in California, the CA Dept. of Public Health can serve as a Process Authority.  The IFTPS page (Institute for Thermal Processing Specialists) has listings for some process authorities.  You may find others in the "Consultants" page on this website's Food Industry Contacts.  AFDO has a searchable list of Food Processing Authorities here:  http://www.afdo.org/foodprocessing.

Can I ask you questions about my specific product and its pH and other characteristics?

Our Department does not have a Food Process Authority on staff.  We refer you to your own Process Authority for product-specific questions.  See question above for how to find a Process Authority.  

How much experience do I have to have with using a computer?

At the minimum, you should be familiar with receiving and responding to email messages, following directions to register and log in on the course website, including choosing a secure password as directed and recording or remembering it, and searching through "junk" or "trash" to recover any automatic messages sent from SmartSite@ucdavis.edu and ensuring that they go to your inbox in the future.  You should also be familiar with navigating web pages in a browser and using a mouse to select "buttons" on an on-screen multiple-choice exam.

Which browser should I use on my computer to view the course?

Here is a list from UC Davis of computer systems and the suggested browsers for optimal performance:  Supported Browsers

Can I use an Apple iPad or other mobile device to log in and view the course?

No, the video presentations will not display correctly on ANY mobile device.

How long is the certification good for?  Will it expire?

No.  Your Certificate of Completion for the course is good indefinitely.

What if I change companies in the future?  Is the certificate still valid or do I need to get a new one?

The certificate is for you, under your name.  It lists your current company, but if you switch companies it is still valid for you personally.  We do send out replacement certificates upon request for people who have taken the course years ago and lost the piece of paper; they list the person's original company name on them but are still valid.

In a small operation, do we need more than one supervisor to take the course and be certified?

If you just certify one person, then that individual certified by the BPCS has to be on – site (physically present) at the time that manufacture of low acid or acidified foods take place. Having 2 people certified would allow a company more flexibility in operations.

Where do I get more information about the process of starting my own company? 

We've posted some helpful information here:  

Acidified Foods - includes approximate pH of foods, and information on low-acid acidified foods including regulations and additional links.  This page contains a link to Instructions for Establishment Registration and Processing Filing for Acidified and Low-Acid Canned Foods.

Processing Foods - includes information on labeling products, regulations, recalls, sanitation, shelf life, labels and regulations for specific food products, and training.

Resources for Starting Your Own Preserved Foods Business (National Center for Home Food Preservation)

You can also refer to the Food Industry Contacts for companies that offer services.  Also see the "Filing of Scheduled Processes" question above.  

Please email our course staff at bpcsonline@ucdavis.edu for all other questions.  (530) 752-5901 is our phone contact.


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Site Creation date 6/1/2009
Webmaster for site:  Zann Gates

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