IEH Academy

Thermal Processing Workshop

Course details



16 hrs.

Dr. Gene Bartholomew

Dr. Mark Deniston

Randy Porter

Thermal processing remains the most important method of food preservation in use today. The large scale of these operations makes it more important than ever that the process is error-free. This 2-day workshop will give an introduction to thermal processing concentrating on low acid food retort production operations.  Many food industry professionals will benefit from attending, such as process engineers, plant engineers, packaging engineers, microbiologists, quality assurance technicians, system operators, quality assurance managers, corporate quality, and production managers.

Benefits and Learning Objectives


Food processors and manufacturers use thermal processing as a critical part of their operations and preservation procedures. Failure to implement effective procedures will lead to product deterioration and loss of sales at best, and at worst to serious illness or death. This course is specifically designed for all those involved in thermal processing. It covers all of the essential information regarding the preservation of food products by heat – all taught by industry leaders.

Participants in this course will learn all of the components required in a comprehensive Food Safety Plan, and understand how Prerequisite Programs set the foundation for a Food Safety Plan.

Additionally, participants will learn to:

  • Understand the Definition of a Critical Factor in a Thermal Processing Unit Operation
  • Understand Why Some Product, Package, and System Characteristics are Critical
  • Understand the Advantages of Utilizing More Critical Factors in Process Design
  • Understand the Disadvantages of Utilizing More Critical Factors in Process Design


  1. Thermobacteriology
  2. Retort Systems and Temperature Distribution Testing
  3. Heat Penetration Theory and Data Acquisition
  4. General Method and Ball Calculation Procedures
  5. General Plant Sanitation Principles for Retort Operations
  6. Sanitary Design for Retort Operations
  7. Sanitary Design Break Out Sessions
  8. Critical Factors in Retort Processing
  9. Thermal Process Deviations and Process Deviation Record Keeping

Who Should Take this Course?

The intended audience for this course includes:

  • Quality Assurance Managers
  • Thermal Processing System Operators
  • Process Engineers
  • Plant Engineers
  • Food Processors
  • Corporate Quality Assurance Managers
  • Corporate Engineering Managers
  • Production Managers


Registration and Payment

To register for this course, please visit our training portal.

Course Instructor

Randy Porter

Vice President, Technical Services - IEH Laboratories & Consulting Group

Randy Porter, BS, Indiana University joined IEH in 2019 as a Vice President of Technical Services after working for food processing companies such as Campbell Soup, Post Holdings, ConAgra Brands, Kraft/Nabisco, and Dannon over his career. Mr. Porter has held leadership roles in Operations, Engineering / Hygienic Design, Sanitation, Quality, and Food Safety, both in plant and corporate environments. He has had responsibility for both, domestic and international food processing facilities across multiple food categories, ranging from a dairy, bakery, meat, edible oils, eggs, snacks, agricultural, flour, frozen meals, chocolate confectionery, powdered beverages, fruit juice, and more. Most recently, Mr. Porter has held leadership roles at ConAgra Brands - Sr. Director Food Safety, Hygienic Design & Sanitation, at Post Holdings – Vice President of Quality & Product Protection, at Campbell Soup – Head of North America Quality, and, at The Acheson Group as Sr. Director of Food Safety. He has authored and published multiple articles on Hygienic Design and has trained and presented at numerous food industry events and seminars across the globe. Mr. Porter is also a lead trainer for Preventive Controls Qualified Individuals, (PCQI), Human Food Rule.

Mark Deniston

Associate Director, Process Engineering - IEH Laboratories & Consulting Group

Mark Deniston has worked with IEH since 2005. He earned his M.S. in Food Engineering from UC Davis and his B.S. from Cal Poly. He has published papers on heat transfer to foods with particles, heat transfer to food products heated in steam/air retorts, and hyperfiltration technology for protein recovery. Deniston also was co-author of a National Food Processors Association (NFPA) book on automated control system validation. Deniston has taught numerous workshops and courses such as the FDA Advanced Low Acid Canned Foods Workshops, NFPA, and IEH Thermal Processing, Aseptic Processing and Process Deviation Workshops, and Better Process Control Schools. At IEH, Deniston conducts evaluation studies on automated control systems, 21 CFR Part 11 electronic record-keeping systems, retort systems, and aseptic processing and packaging systems. He also recommends LACF and acidified thermal processes and evaluates LACF and acidified thermal process deviations. Deniston has held a part-time UC Davis position for 33 years, and before working at IEH, he worked at the NFPA Western Research Laboratory for 19 years in thermal processing and environmental engineering.

Dr. Gene Bartholomew

Vice President, Technical Services - IEH Laboratories & Consulting Group

Dr. Gene Bartholomew joined IEH as Vice President of Technical Services in 2019. He earned an M.S. and Ph.D. in microbiology from Cornell University and a B.S. in biology from Bucknell University. Dr. Bartholomew began his professional career at International Paper in 1983 as a research scientist. During his 15 years there, he commercialized and validated an aseptic packaging system, managed a beverage pilot plant and its laboratory, started taste panel testing for the company, and advanced to manage several products, and development groups. Dr. Bartholomew then joined Smithfield Foods Packaged Meats. He started in the John Morrell Group as the corporate director of food safety for 7 meat processing and slaughter facilities and 1 spice plant. He later took on the role of Senior Director of Corporate Food Safety, during which he was responsible for 14 meat processing plants and several FDA-regulated plants. Throughout his 20-year career at Smithfield, he led HACCP plan design and validation, thermal processing, regulatory compliance, sanitation, allergen control, and environmental pathogen monitoring. He also managed a corporate microbiology laboratory and its accreditation, has certifications in HACCP training, BRC, and SQF schemes, and is a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual. Dr. Bartholomew was a founding member of the North American Meat Institute Listeria Control Workshop and has taught numerous courses to members of the food industry.