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Food safety initiative focuses on artisan and farmstead cheese makers

Workshop in development where artisans can receive food safety coaching.

The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, in partnership with North Carolina State University, has launched a new food safety online course geared toward artisan and farmstead cheese makers, which represents a growing segment of cheese production.

According to the Innovation Center, more than 1,000 U.S. processors are helping meet consumer demand for these types of cheese. To reach and support this cheese-making community more effectively, the Innovation Center has partnered with the American Cheese Society, along with academics, retailers and small dairy manufacturers, to establish the Artisan Food Safety Advisory Team.

The online introductory course, “Food Safety for Artisan/Farmstead Cheesemakers,” will be offered free through the end of the year. It includes five interactive segments focused on the importance of food safety, food safety hazards, preventive controls, regulatory considerations and product/environmental monitoring.

“The Innovation Center’s Food Safety Committee is a great example of how farmer, processor and manufacturer organizations can work together on common priorities,” said Barb O’Brien, president of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and Dairy Management Inc. “This kind of collaboration on issues that transcend competition is critical to building confidence and trust in U.S. dairy.”

Jeremy Travis, vice president of quality and technical services at Hilmar Cheese Co. Inc. and chairman of the Innovation Center’s Food Safety Committee, added, “We know that artisan and farmstead products represent a growing segment of cheese production in the U.S., and we want to share effective tools that can make these business owners be successful – and safe – at their craft.”

The Innovation Center has offered food safety workshops for U.S. processors multiple times a year since 2011. More than 2,800 industry professionals have been trained on the latest advancements to continuously improve the quality and safety of dairy products. These training activities are staffed and funded by dairy processors.

In addition to the workshop, the Innovation Center consolidated self-study resources, guides and tools on a new website, www.safecheesemaking.org. O’Brien said a nationwide workshop is in development where artisans can receive coaching while they draft their own food safety plans.

More information can be found at www.usdairy.com/artisan.

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