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Microbiological Testing: A Hands-On Food Safety Course Presented by IDFA


Microbiological Testing: A Hands-On Food Safety Course is a career-building training opportunity. It’s offered exclusively for dairy industry professionals with food safety responsibilities, including those working in quality assurance and control, sanitation, maintenance, operations and more.

The course was developed by IDFA and Chestnut Labs to provide skills and tools for dairy plant professionals with responsibility for ensuring food safety.

The lab setting lets participants see how the learning objectives are put into practice, making this a unique education experience. The course offers participants the opportunity for growth within their companies and their fields.

Participants Will Learn

  1. Proper plating, reading and interpretation of common indicator microorganisms through hands-on application with expert instruction
  2. How to prevent common mistakes in microbiological testing
  3. How to create and interpret product specifications, including how to choose the correct test methods and sampling plans
  4. How to assist with the design, implementation and ongoing operation of a pathogen environmental sampling program, including root cause and corrective action, and the best testing methodologies to perform based on product type and sanitizer use within the facility
  5. How to perform internal laboratory audits, including the proper evaluation of equipment calibrations, good laboratory practices and lab design
  6. How to control pathogens of significance in the dairy industry
  7. How the pending FDA Food Safety Modernization Act requirements will affect your organization and how to be better prepared for FDA inspections

Day 1, Tuesday, November 7

7:45 – 8:00 a.m., Welcome and Introduction

8:00 – 9:00 a.m., Microbiology 101

9:00 – 10:00 a.m., Pathogens of Significance in the Dairy Industry and Control in the Manufacturing Environment

10:00 – 10:15 a.m., Break

10:15 – 11:15 a.m., Pathogen Environmental Monitoring (PEM) Concepts – Testing Alternatives, Designing a Program and Corrective Action Documentation

11:15 a.m. – Noon, PEM Concepts – Break-Out Session, Sampling and Vector Videos, and Hands-On Swabbing Exercise

Noon - 1:15 p.m., Lunch

1:15 - 1:30 p.m., Hands-On Exercises: Set-up

2:30 - 2:45 p.m., Break

4:30 – 5:00 p.m., Question and Answer Session: Daily Follow-Up Questions

5:30 – 6:30 p.m., Networking Reception

Day 2, Wednesday, November 8

8:30 – 10:00 a.m., Good Laboratory Practices and Laboratory Auditing

10:00 – 10:15 a.m., Break

10:15 – 11:15 a.m., Equipment Calibrations: Thermometers and Alternative Temperature Monitoring Systems, Scales, Pipettors and Proper Record Keeping

11:15 a.m. – Noon, Hands-On Exercises: Reading and Interpretation Exercise Overview

Noon – 1:00 p.m., Lunch

1:00 – 2:15 p.m., Hands-On Exercises: Reading and Interpretation

2:15 – 2:30 p.m., Break

2:30 – 4:00 p.m., Food Safety Modernization Act and Regulatory Update

4:00 – 4:30 p.m., Corrective Action/Preventive Action (CAPA) and Root Cause Investigation

4:30 – 5:00 p.m., Question and Answer Session: Daily Follow-Up Questions

Day 3, Thursday, November 9

8:00 – 9:00 a.m., Basic Dairy Chemistry

9:00 – 9:45 a.m., Sampling Plans, Aseptic Sample Collection, Sample Compositing, Understanding and Writing Product Specifications

9:45 – 10:00 a.m., Break

10:00 – 11:30 a.m., Hands-On Exercises: Reading and Interpretation

11:30 a.m. – Noon, Question and Answer Session: Surveys and Follow-Up

Noon, Adjourn

The easiest way to register is online; however, we can accommodate registrations paid by check. To do so, please download the paper registration form by clicking here. Once you complete it, please mail the registration form along with the check to the International Dairy Foods Association, 1250 H Street NW, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20005.

Registration Fee: $1,495
Registration includes three days of instruction, lunch, coffee breaks, and networking reception at the end of Day One along with take-home materials.

Group Discount
IDFA and Chestnut Labs will grant a 10 percent registration discount for groups of three or more people from the same company. Contact the IDFA meetings team at to receive this discount. 

Cancellation Policy
Full refunds will be granted for written cancellations received up to three weeks before the course. Cancellations received one to three weeks before the course will be eligible for a 50 percent refund. No registration refunds will be granted after October 31, 2017. All cancellations must be received in writing. Substitutions may be made without penalty.

For more information, contact the IDFA meetings team, at


The DoubleTree Hotel has a discounted room rate of $99 per night plus taxes for course attendees. The special room rate will be available until October 23, 2017 or until the group block is sold-out, whichever comes first. We have secured a large block of rooms, but once all the rooms have been reserved, we cannot guarantee that additional space will be available. The easiest way to book a room is online, however you can also make a reservation by calling the DoubleTree Hotel at (417) 831-3131 and indicate that you are with the IDFA dairy education series group.

DoubleTree Hotel
2431 N Glenstone Avenue
Springfield, MO 65803
(417) 831-3131
Hotel Website


The DoubleTree Hotel provides complimentary transportation to and from the Springfield–Branson National Airport. The hotel also provides with a complimentary parking to guests.

SpringfieldBranson National Airport
2300 N. Airport Blvd.
Springfield, MO 65802
Springfield Branson Airport is served by Allegiant Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines and United Airlines.

Class Location

Chestnut Labs Education Center
2835 North Oak Grove Avenue
Springfield, MO65803

Participants will need to provide a photo ID to register and enter the facility each morning.

Kristen Acker, M.B.A.
General Manager & Vice President, Chestnut Labs

As general manager and vice president of Chestnut Labs, Kristen Acker provides strategic leadership for the organization including all divisions and locations; microbiology, chemistry, research, consulting, training, auditing and education, information technology infrastructure and business development are a part of this responsibility.

Previous to her current role at Chestnut Labs, Acker served as the senior director of quality assurance and compliance for Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. – Global Dairy Products Group. She had oversight of consumer response programs, supplier and co-manufacturer quality programs, corporate standardized food safety and quality programs, GFSI (SQF) programs, quality IT systems, and internal and external laboratory systems. Acker has significant experience in microbiological testing and method evaluation, food safety risk assessment, and pathogen control and testing, and has provided numerous presentations within the industry regarding the development of food safety programs and the control of pathogens in the environment.

Acker is an expert in microbiological testing and method evaluation, food safety risk assessment, and pathogen control and testing. She is also a subject matter expert serving on the Dairy Management Inc. Food Safety Task Force Committee, which is a part of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. Acker received her B.S. in biology and chemistry from Missouri State University and an M.B.A. from Drury University.

Mary L. Bandu, Ph.D. 
Director of Technical Services, Chestnut Labs

Mary L. Bandu joined Chestnut Labs in November of 2011 as the director of technical services – research and chemistry. Bandu earned a B.A. in biology from the University of Houston and a doctorate degree in analytical chemistry from the University of Kansas. She has 10 years of experience in analytical chemistry and holds a patent for sequencing unknown oligoneucleotides using tandam mass spectrometry. Bandu has numerous publications and honors relevant to her research in mass spectrometry, along with 10 years of experience in research microbiology, with extensive experience in microbial/pack challenge studies, thermal process validations and antimicrobial intervention validations. She previously worked at Remel/Thermo Fisher Scientific developing microbial media, while also overseeing the chemistry laboratory.

Haiping Li, Ph.D.
Director of Technical Services, Chestnut Labs

Haiping Li is a food safety expert with 20 years of research experience ranging from dairy fermentation and biotech, to pathogen environmental/processing tolerance, risk assessment, and low moisture food manufacturing. Prior to Chestnut Labs, Li was a staff microbiologist at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration where she directed several research projects and served on various committees. Her work involved risk assessments of thermal processing technologies, and pathogen resistance and preventive control in low moisture food and processing environments. She received her Ph.D. and Master degree in Food Science at the University of Minnesota. Before coming to the U.S., Li worked in China Shandong Center of Disease Control, gaining knowledge about food safety and public health policies in China.

Emily R. Lyons
Director of Regulatory Affairs and Counsel, International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA)

Emily Lyons is responsible for working with members and government agencies on environmental, worker safety and sustainability issues, as well as food safety and food defense. She also serves as legal counsel on issues involving contracts, antitrust, and statutory and regulatory interpretation.

Originally from a small dairy farm in Northern Illinois, Lyons has a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Sciences and a minor in Environmental Economics and Law from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She earned her law degree from Vermont Law School and is a licensed attorney in the District of Columbia and the State of Illinois.

Lyons has held a series of internships with agricultural organizations and companies. She also served as a summer associate with Brown, Hay & Stephens LLP in Springfield, Ill., where she managed complex environmental cases, and as a law clerk for Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz PC in Washington, D.C.