Jason Bolton’s phone begins to ring at 7:30 a.m.
The first call is from a local butcher requesting information about a two-day course offered by University of Maine Cooperative Extension covering new federal food safety regulations.
The next is from the manager of one of the state’s thriving craft breweries, seeking advice on the design for a new facility and equipment needed to keep up with rising demand.
Then a community member calls to ask whether it’s safe to eat homemade pickles that have been hidden in a pantry for over a decade. (Spoiler alert: it’s not.)
Bolton, UMaine Extension food safety specialist and associate professor, never knows what query the next call will bring — from a question about what to do with cheese someone “finally found,” to a request for laboratory analysis of a new hot sauce created by a Maine-based company.
He also isn’t sure what the next office visit will bring, like the day someone stopped by with a container of glowing shrimp covered in bioluminescent bacteria.
When he’s not fielding calls and visits, Bolton is on the road, traveling statewide to work one-on-one with food and beverage entrepreneurs — both home-based business owners and managers of multimillion-dollar seafood facilities. As part of UMaine Extension’s three-member food safety team, he consults on issues ranging from facility expansion plans and best food safety practices to product development and regulatory compliance.
He also organizes professional industry courses, teaches UMaine’s popular Brewing with Food Science class and a graduate-level course on food safety preventive controls; and advises food science graduate student researchers.