As a regional professional organization with nearly 200 members, the California Artisan Cheese Guild (CACG) is dedicated to supporting and encouraging the California cheese community. With the recent news that a California cheesemaker was subject to a cheese recall and quarantine (see the CDFA website to view the press release), it is also a reminder that this could happen to any of us. We urge all cheesemakers to take a proactive approach – don’t wait until there is a problem to begin evaluating your manufacturing practices. We all have a responsibility to uphold the highest standards of safety and quality in our daily operations. The CACG encourages cheesemakers to voluntarily meet and exceed current regulatory standards, and whenever possible, to follow Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP’s) and establish Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans. We understand that implementation of such plans is often a significant financial and time burden on small-scale cheesemakers, therefore you are encouraged to follow these additional CACG-recommended best practices:
• take part in ongoing food safety education and training
• conduct regular milk and environmental testing
• maintain accurate and up-to-date records to ensure product safety and traceability
• build relationships and work collaboratively with local and federal regulators
• maintain adequate product liability insurance
The CACG supports efforts by the FDA and CDFA to protect consumers and ensure safe cheese manufacturing. In 2012, the CACG established a new Regulatory Affairs Committee to work collaboratively with local, state and federal regulatory agencies, industry partners, and with our members to improve understanding of effective safety measures and how best to implement them in a wide variety of cheesemaking environments. Safe cheesemaking is critically important for the health of consumers, and the health of our industry. We must work together to uphold the reputation of our industry and to maintain consumer confidence in our cheeses.
In November, the CACG is hosting a roundtable discussion on safe cheesemaking, best practices and potential pitfalls. All members are encouraged to attend and it will be free of charge. Please watch your inbox for more details.
Seana Doughty, President
California Artisan Cheese Guild