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Guidelines for food safety control of artisan cheese-making

image of Guidelines for food safety control of artisan cheese-making

These guidelines have been formulated as part of the project ”Nordic co-operation between representatives of the sector and food safety inspectors in order to simplify the food safety control of artisan cheese-making”, also known as ”Nordost” (Northern Cheese). The project is financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers and was initiated bythe Nordic work group for ”Food administration and user/consumer information” (the NMF group). The content of the guidelines and the appendices do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Nordic Council of Ministers or the National Food Administration. Artisan cheese-making takes place under greatly varying conditions, which can include everything from cheese-making in tiled dairies to production in primitive summerpasture villages. Nevertheless, irrespective of the environment in which it takes place, the cheese-making process is the same and the same demands apply, namely that the cheese shall be safe for consumers to eat. It is the producers duty to ensure that the cheese does not represent a health hazard, and that it is suitable for human consumption. The objective of these guidelines is to provide support to food safety inspectors in carrying out efficient food safety control by focusing on the relevant hazards associated with artisan cheese-making, but also to disseminate the results of the sub-projects in ”Nordost” to producers and other interested parties. Several of these sub-projects have studied relevant literature and tested equipment that enables simple effective own control by producers.

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Verification through testing samples

A common misconception is that bad-tasting products necessarily indicate the presence of pathogenic bacteria. This may be true in certain cases, but in other cases it is not so. Tasting the products is an important part of quality control, but to be certain of the hygienic quality of the product, it must be combined with microbiological analyses. How many samples must be tested and what should be analysed? Testing samples is a complex issue. One problem is that it is difficult to take a representative sample of a solid foodstuff such as cheese, as the bacteria may be unevenly distributed in the product. The reliability of the tests is also greatly influenced by how large a percentage of the cheeses are contaminated and how many samples are analysed. The example below and information about testing samples is an excerpt from Appendix 4 “To test or not to test”.

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