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.

June 3, 2020 RFA Technical Webcast:


“RFA Shelf Life Protocol


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

Date and Time:

     * Wednesday, June 3, 2020, 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)



In 2020, the Refrigerated Foods Association (RFA) released to its members of an updated Shelf Life Protocol.  The RFA Standardized Protocol for Determining Shelf Life of Refrigerated Foods was originally developed in 2002 and subsequently revised in 2009. The purpose of the standardized protocol was to enable individual manufacturers, and/or their customers if they so desired, to determine their product shelf life and compare their stated shelf life with the shelf life of similar products produced by other manufacturers. Many of the updates to the protocol came in response to an RFA survey of its members, conducted in 2019. RFA members indicated that they use the shelf life protocol for applications including new product development and for verification that shelf life and challenge study protocols are meeting industry standards. Members requested updated information on technologies including high pressure processing (HPP), the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and food safety assessment for Clostridium botulinumListeria, and Salmonella. Members also asked that examples of food products used in the protocol be expanded to include products in growth categories such as coleslaw, potato salad, dips and spreads (hummus, salsa), soups and chicken salad. Most RFA members were satisfied with the testing prescribed in the current protocol. Some respondents requested information on selection of natural and traditional antimicrobials, as well as updated FDA and USDA guidance. Based upon the RFA survey results, the updated protocol discusses additional foods of relevance (dips including hummus, salsa, tzatziki and guacamole) as well as processing technologies and ingredients that can improve product shelf life and safety. Due to important regulatory and technological changes adopted within the food industry, the RFA standardized protocol was also updated to address concerns regarding issues raised by FDA’s 2018 draft guidance for Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food, as well as guidance for the psychrotrophic pathogen Listeria monocytogenes in foods that do not support its growth. In addition, the protocol was revised to include updated information regarding the growth and/or control of nonproteolytic C. botulinum type E strains in seafood and other refrigerated products. RFA’s Standardized Protocol for Determining the Shelf Life of Refrigerated Foods has stood the test of time and served its members well, and new updates will continue to provide members with relevant information so that advancements in technologies and ingredients can be evaluated with respect to refrigerated product shelf life improvements. This presentation will provide RFA members with an opportunity to review the Shelf Life Protocol and to pose questions regarding use of the protocol for shelf life testing and improvement. 


Catherine Donnelly

Catherine Donnelly received her Ph.D. in food science from North Carolina State University, specializing in food microbiology. She joined the faculty of the University of Vermont in 1983 when a large outbreak of illness caused by a relatively unknown bacterium, Listeria monocytogenes, occurred in Boston, Massachusetts. Donnelly’s laboratory began research on this dangerous foodborne pathogen. She developed procedures for detection of Listeria in food, and worked collaboratively with the FDA in refuting theories that Listeria could survive pasteurization. She lectured extensively on the topic of Listeria at a time of crisis for the dairy industry, and has continued to give lectures on Listeria around the globe. Donnelly served as a member of the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods from January 1999 to 2005, being appointed initially by President Clinton and later reappointed by President Bush. She also served as a member of the Science Advisory Board to FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research.

Donnelly developed an interest in artisan cheese and controlling the threat of Listeria contamination in artisan cheese. In 2004, she and her colleague Paul Kindstedt became co-directors of the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese (VIAC) at UVM. Through VIAC, Donnelly was able to collaborate with cheese scientists from around the globe on issues concerning cheese safety. Her book Cheese and Microbes, published by the American Society for Microbiology, provided insight into the microbiological complexities of cheese as a living food. She served as Editor in Chief of the Oxford Companion to Cheese, and was the recipient of a James Beard Award in honor of her work on this landmark publication.

Donnelly received the Maurice Weber Laboratorian Award from the International Association of Food Protection in 2006 in recognition of her outstanding laboratory contributions, and in 2011, was named a Fellow of the Institute of Food Technologists.


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 June 1, 2020.

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.

Please note: You must have JAVA enabled on your computer to participate in the web conference.

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