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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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What should a HACCP plan include?

This is well-documented, for instance in the “Codex document on general principles for food hygiene including HACCP” or in EU Regulation 852/2004: Article 5. 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. Special courses in this subject are also available. The producer /manufacturer is always responsible for formulating a HACCP plan, or employing an existing HACCP plan that has been formulated for a specific product or process, if the control authority and the cheese producer judge that the plan is relevant to the business in question. See also the sub-project HACCP First Aid Kit (Appendix 2) and the information in the chapter on HACCP in the guidelines for the food sector “Safe Food in Shop” (Svensk Dagligvaruhandel) and “Hygienic Production of Milk Products” (Swedish Dairy Association), which can be accessed via the website of the National Food Administration (www.slv.se). If the milk used for cheese-making is bought from a farm, it is recommended that the farmer also takes part in formulating the HACCP plan (see Appendix 3). In a survey conducted by Lena Eriksson from the Municipality of Älvdalen, on outbreaks of disease in which milk products were thought to be the source of infection, the results of her interviews stressed the importance of each company carrying out rigorous own control procedures. Not only should they have adequate own control of their dairy work and cheese-making, but also adequate procedures for own control of the quality of animal feed, the health of livestock and milk quality in the production of dairy produce. The quality of the milk is of particular importance in the production of unpasteurised dairy products.

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