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Achieving Risk Reduction Through Identification Of Research, Education And Technology Needs Of Artisan And Farmstead Cheesemakers


<p>Our long-term goal is to develop and implement strategies to enhance the safety of dairy foods. Ensuring the safety of dairy products will preserve and enhance consumer confidence thereby sustaining demand and the economic viability of small dairy farms and the quality of life for farmers and consumers. Our objective in this conference proposal is to foster collaboration by bringing together animal scientists, veterinarians, food microbiologists, industry partners, extension educators and artisan producers to identify research, education and extension needs as well as control strategies to proactively address artisan and farmstead cheeses as a vehicle of food borne hazards. We plan to attain the objective of this application by pursuing the following specific aims:</p>

<li>Develop a consortium of individuals and groups dedicated to enhancing artisan and farmstead cheese safety.</li>
<li>Identify current knowledge, training, and research opportunities and challenges for pathogen prevention and control in artisan and farmstead cheese making.</li>
<li>Identify action items and collaboration groups to work on specific training and research gaps.</li>
<li>Generate a white paper detailing the current challenges and opportunities as well as recommendations to address training and research needs</li>
<li>Conduct a follow-up evaluation to assess the impact of the conference.</li>


More information

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The overall approach for this conference will be similar to that of National Food Safety Education Conference organized by the Partnership for Food Safety Education that brings together stakeholders from government, industry and consumer groups with food-safety educators to identify the best ways to educate consumers about steps they can take to avoid foodborne illnesses. In addition to directly targeting speakers and topics we will solicit abstracts for presentations at the conference to ensure the best material and subjects possible. With that, the proposed program below is subject to change. Regardless, the proposed conference will focus on 4 major themes:</p>

<li>Understanding the Current Situation: Assessing the issues and current opportunities.</li>
<li>Assessing Cheese Safety Training and Education Programs: Examining how eachgroup perceives the effectiveness of current cheese safety education offerings in changing producer behavior. Reviewing case studies of programs that have been successful.</li>
<li>Technology Transfer: Considering the tools and technologies artisan and farmsteadcheese makers can use to enhance the safety of their products.</li>
<li>Motivating Behavior Change: Exploring ways and incentives to foster behavioral changes that promote cheese safety.</li>

<p>The proposed program constitutes all areas we would like to cover. The breakout groups will provide a forum for small producers to describe and highlight barriers and challenges. With that, the proposed program below is subject to change with the understanding that it may appear ambitious for a 2-day conference as presented. We will work to involve audience interaction and reaction to each presentation through facilitated question and answer periods. This will maximize small producer participation.<br />
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Day 1: August 2, 2015.Morning: Understanding the Current Situation: Assessing the issues and current opportunities.</p>

<li>An Overview of the U.S. Artisan Cheese Industry:o Changes in the U.S. Artisan Industry-Jeff Roberts, VIAC's Principal Consultanto Opportunities and Challenges-Professor Paul Kindstedt, University of Vermont</li>
<li>Food Safety Challenges:o FDA perspective- John Sheehan, FDA;o International perspective: Jeff Farber, Health Canada;o Notes from the field: Dennis D'Amico, University of Connecticut, Marianne Smukowski, Wisconsin CDR; Kerry Kaylegian, Penn State;o Retailer perspective: Cathy Gaffney, Wegmans; Cathy Strange, Global Cheese Buyer, Whole Foods Market</li>
<li>Cheesemaker Needs: Highlighting barriers for safe production in small operations.o Nora Weiser, Executive Director American Cheese Society;o Unique challenges of the future: Andy and Mateo Kehler, Cellars at Jasper Hill</li>
<li>State Regulatory Needs:o Casey McCue, NY Dept. of Ag. and Markets and President of the National Association of Dairy Regulatory OfficialsAfternoon: Assessing Cheese Safety Training and Education Programs</li>
<li>What training is offered? Reviewing case studies of current programs. Panel to include representatives from various programs including:o Rob Ralyea and Martin Weidmann, Cornell University; Dennis D'Amico,University of Connecticut; Phil Tong/Nana Farkye, Cal Poly; Liz Goddick,Oregon State; Seana Doughty, Owner/Cheesemaker Bleating Heart Cheese,President California Artisan Cheese Guild</li>
<li>FSMA and the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance: Pernendu Vasaveda, PCV &amp; Associates, LLC.</li>
<li>Breakout groups: Facilitated discussion to identify future needs and opportunities based on the conference sessions and Q&amp;A. Discuss how each group perceives the effectiveness of current offerings in changing producer behavior and areas forimprovement, collaboration, and harmonization.</li>


<p><br />
Day 2: August 3, 2015.Morning: Technology Transfer</p>


<li>Resources available to enhance food safety:o Assistance available though large manufacturers: Representative from the IC FSOCo Role of the veterinarian in cheese safety: Mark Wustenberg, DVM, Tillamook Cheeseo Microbiological testing methods: Jeff Kornacki, Ph. D: President, Kornacki Microbiology Solutions, Madison, WIo Protective Cultures: Rex Infanger, Account Manager at Daniscoo Non-thermal processing alternatives: Mansel Griffiths, Director, Canadian Research Institute for Food Safety, University of Guelpho Sanitary Design and Sanitation for Artisan/Farmstead Operations: Neville McNaughton, CheezSorce; Tony Erickson, Principle Chemist, Ecolab.Afternoon:</li>
<li>Town Hall Discussion: The purpose of the town hall style discussion is to gather input from attendees including those that do not deliver more formal presentations. This will provide an outlet for producers to engage in discussion and voice their opinions.</li>
<li>Breakout groups: Facilitated discussion to address the development of incentives to foster behavioral changes that promote cheese safety.</li>
<li>Regroup:Summarize issues, opportunities and ideas from each breakout group; Identify action items and collaboration groups to work on specific training and research gaps; Prioritization of ideas, development of action plans, and timeline generation for the publication of the proceedings and agreed upon actions.</li>


<p><br />
<br />
White Paper. The white paper can provide a summary of the gaps identified and solutions defined as to providing artisan/farmstead cheese makers additional resources to address food safety. This summary will also provide educators a basis for future food safety training, including the use of Extension in reaching the artisan/farmstead cheese makers. The white paper will also serve to transfer knowledge and understanding of a this issue from all perspectives and provide information to aid in achieving risk reduction through the various approaches identified including workshops and training, outreach, and technology transfer. The white paper will also explain the results or conclusions resulting from the conference including collaborations.<br />
<br />
Conference Evaluation. We will utilize members of the consortium and a newly developed evaluation tool to determine the effectiveness of the conference and subsequent white paper in achieving our objectives and addressing our themes (Understanding the Current Situation; Assessing Cheese Safety Training and Education Programs; Technology Transfer; Motivating Behavior Change). More specifically, we will seek feedback on the development or improvement in education offerings, the implementation of food safety technologies, and changes in food safety knowledge. We will also seek to assess changes in the understanding of the state of the industry and its future directions related to food safety. Data will be collected through surveys (paper and/or online) of participants and producers as a whole (through ACS direct mailing) at two points in time. We will collect feedback and formative evaluation data immediately after their completion of the conference. To the extent possible, we will collect follow-up data six to twelve months post dissemination of the white paper to determine the longer term impact on cheese safety and identify new or additional research and training needs of cheese makers. The IC and DRI will also facilitate two to three focus groups and interviews with conference attendees to supplement survey data with qualitative, case-level data. We will directly target other groups represented at the conference to gauge observed change as well (Dairy Promotion Checkoff programs, Whole Foods, etc.). Regarding regulators, the white paper and survey will be provided to government agencies (i.e. NIFA, ARS, FSA, AMS, CFSAN) to identify changes as well.</p>



D&#039;Amico, Dennis
University of Connecticut
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