Cheese Bytes Masthead 2010
In This Issue...
Judging & Competition opens
Conference Registration Dates
Volunteer in Madison
Sponsorship Opportunities
ACS Retail Discount Program
Cheese in the News
Member Milestones
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo
ACS Responds to FDA Risk Assessment
Regulatory News & Updates
Member Services News
Judging & Competition News
Judging & Competition Call for Entries is Open! 

The call for entries for the 2013 ACS Judging & Competition
is now open. All entries will be accepted via ACS's online entry system. See official entry instructions on our website.

Don't forget -- enter your products by May 17 to enjoy the lowest entry fees! On May 18, fees increase from $60 to $85 per product entered.

This year's Judging & Competition is looking to be bigger and better than ever, and we look forward to receiving your cheeses and cultured dairy products in Madison!  


Registration for ACS 30th Anniversary: In a Dairy State of Mind, the 2013 ACS Conference & Competition, will open on Monday, May 6. Mark your calendar to ensure that you can take advantage of the lowest registration rates.  


Visit our website for conference updates, including a schedule of this year's educational program. Details about discounted hotel rates for ACS members is also available.

Volunteer in Madison and Earn Great Rewards!

ACS relies on countless volunteers to help our annual Conference & Competition run smoothly, and our 30th Anniversary events in Madison are no exception.  


Our volunteers generously share their time and talents, and they receive great rewards:

  • A complimentary ticket to the Festival of Cheese on Saturday, August 3 ($55 value) 
  • Official volunteer t-shirt

Volunteers are needed from July 25 through August 4. Shifts vary in length. Volunteers must be age 18 or older.


Lend a hand: sign up to volunteer today

Reserve Your 2013 Conference Sponsorship

ACS's 30th Anniversary Conference & Competition is looking to be our best-attended yet, with more than 800 industry leaders attending from throughout the United States and around the world. Conference sponsorship offers a unique opportunity to gain visibility among industry decision-makers and consumers. Opportunities to fit every company's needs are outlined in our 2013 Sponsorship Brochure.  


To reserve a sponsorship, contact Rebecca Sherman Orozco or call 720-328-2788. 

Join the ACS Retail Discount Program!

ACS has developed a new membership benefit: year-round discounts for members at cheese retailers around the country. The growing list of participating retailers are offering members a special discount when an ACS membership card is presented.


If you're a retailer and would like to participate in this program, email us or call 720-328-2788.


Cheese in the News
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo 

Cinco de Mayo is around the corner, and it's time to start planning your menu! These South and Central American-inspired recipes offer the perfect opportunity to introduce cheese and cultured dairy products into your celebration...and for a basic introduction to Mexican-style cheeses, be sure to check out Diana Kennedy's guide!

Make Your Voice Heard


A newscaster last night said, "On any given day, any one of the next five stories would be a headline. But with all that's going on today, not so." It struck me as funny, because it seems that way here at ACS. There is so much going on that I hope you'll read this entire CheeseBytes issue to get fully up to speed.


I will start with the obvious headline: by now you should have received a Member Alert asking you to provide a comment via the Federal Register on FDA's risk assessment on listeriosis from soft-ripened cheese consumption. ACS submitted its official comment to the Federal Register on Friday, which represents the hard work and collaboration of many dedicated and knowledgeable members of our organization and the cheese community at large. My sincere thanks go out to all of them. Please check the Member Alert for suggestions as to how you can participate in the comment period, which ends on April 29. Your voice matters, and the more comments our members submit, the more impact they will have. We urge you to keep it constructive while making your voice heard!


On to other big news. As we prepare to celebrate ACS's big three-oh milestone in Madison this summer, our board and staff kicked off the anniversary festivities with a reception in Denver, ACS's hometown. We welcomed local members, partners, and vendors who help with our website, branding, accounting, and much, much more. This coincided with our first ever Spring "Deep Dive" Board Meeting in Denver. It was an amazing opportunity to firmly establish our roots after three years in the Mile High City, and to thank the many people who have helped us flourish there.


Our board meeting in Denver proved to be one of our best, designed for the board to meet face-to-face with ACS staff and address the big picture issues facing the organization this year, and in the future. Many of the topics we addressed will be discussed in greater detail in Madison, and you will see the results in the programming and benefits our members enjoy in the coming months and years. Our volunteer board provided direction for ACS's amazing staff to pursue, in order to execute the vision and mission that have been established for ACS in recent years.


Some of the greatest progress in Denver came in the area of "best practices" for both cheesemakers and retailers. Our Body of Knowledge is being tapped to create best practices guides that are easy for industry members to use and follow. This is a major undertaking, and we hope that ACS members will appreciate the hard work of our volunteer committees by using these guides, once they are complete. 


Also coming in Madison: look for beautiful and impactful new branding for ACS, plus a proposed member Code of Safety and Conduct that reflects our leadership position in an ever-changing a whole lot more.  


That newscaster was right: there are too many headlines for one newscast. Please remember to take action on the risk assessment by April 29 -- and if you don't mind sharing your comments with our staff, it would be most appreciated.


Thanks for all that you do for ACS, and for cheese lovers everywhere.



Warm regards,


Greg O'Neill


Springing into Action

Nora Weiser-New Photo


Despite two snowstorms in the first two weeks of April, it is starting to feel like spring in Colorado. And it has been a busy season for ACS so far. Our Regulatory & Academic Committee has been tireless in assessing and developing an appropriate response to the FDA/Health Canada risk assessment on listeriosis from soft-ripened cheese consumption. We posted our official response to the Federal Register on Friday; you can learn more about our response in this issue.  


Our Board of Directors has been doing some difficult work as well, thinking strategically about the direction of ACS and the industry. Last weekend, we were delighted to host the board in Denver for the first time since setting up shop here three years ago. We spent two jam-packed days discussing, and sometimes even resolving, challenging issues that will have a profound impact on our future course. We are excited to share some of these new initiatives and concepts with you in Madison, and we hope they will spur some lively discussions at the Town Hall Meeting. Thanks go out to all those who joined us for a special 30th Anniversary Reception while our board was here in Denver -- it was wonderful to see such a strong local cheese community turn out for the event. 

Cheeses and accompaniments on display at the ACS 30th Anniversary Reception in Denver


Special thanks are due to those who helped make the event possible: the cheesemakers who generously shared their wonderful cheeses, Gourmet Foods International for coordinating all of the cheeses, 34 Degrees for making sure the cheese wasn't lonely, Great Divide Brewing Company for providing local craft beers, and Colorado Cider Company for introducing everyone to their hard cider made from locally-grown Colorado apples. It was a lovely evening, which fortunately fell between the two aforementioned snowstorms!


Nora Weiser
Executive Director


ACS Responds to Risk Assessment on Listeriosis from Soft-Ripened Cheese Consumption: Members are Encouraged to Comment before April 29 Deadline 


On Friday, ACS posted its official comments to the Federal Register in response to the Draft Joint FDA/Health Canada Quantitative Assessment of the Risk of Listeriosis From Soft-Ripened Cheese Consumption in the U.S. and Canada. The comments were carefully drafted by the ACS Board of Directors in conjunction with the ACS Regulatory & Academic Committee, after a thorough review of the report.


We encourage you to read ACS's comments and submit your own response to the Federal Register in support of, or in addition to, ACS's response. The deadline for comment is April 29, so act quickly to make your voice heard!


Submit your comments: (Docket # FDA-2012-N-1182)  


Need ideas as to how you might focus your comments? Read this week's Member Alert for suggestions as to how to respond to the risk assessment. Or, you can simply submit a note in support of ACS's comments. 


If you have questions about ACS's comments, or if you need assistance crafting your own response, contact ACS at 720-328-2788 or [email protected].

Regulatory News & Updates 


Comment Period Extended for FDA Pilot Project Report

The comment period for FDA's Pilot Projects for Improving Product Tracing along the Food Supply System - Final Report (PDF: 5.6MB) has been extended to July 3, 2013. View the Federal Register Notice for the extension of the comment period.


Preventive Controls and Produce Safety Rules: Frequently Asked Questions    


FDA has released frequently asked questions and answers to a proposed rule: 


Consortium for Common Food Names Invites Producers of "Gruyere" Style Cheeses to Learn More about Swiss Trademark Application

The Swiss government recently applied for a U.S. trademark that would grant the exclusive right to use the term "Gruyere" in the U.S. Several organizations have requested time to analyze this trademark application and consider submitting objections. The Consortium for Common Food Names invites ACS members with questions or concerns about the trademark application to contact Shawna Morris to learn more about the Consortium's work and the application.


From the Member Services Desk: Promote Your Products at Consumer and Industry Events This Year!   


ACS members who produce cheese or other specialty foods have the opportunity to promote their products during several consumer- and industry-oriented events throughout the year. This is a great opportunity to get your products in front of consumers, retailers, and distributors!


One of the largest consumer-oriented events that ACS participates in is the Great American Beer Festival (GABF). GABF is the premier beer festival in the country
with 49,000 attendees visiting over three days every October in Denver. ACS hosts an artisan cheese booth in the center of all the action with cheese, crackers, and accoutrements from our members available for sampling.

"You'll be happy to know that GABF is packed full of educated attendees genuinely interested in food, not to mention craft beer. We look forward to participating at the ACS booth each year and recommend it to cheese manufacturers of all sizes." -Jason Baxter, Cypress Grove Chevre


This June 14 and 15, ACS will showcase member cheeses at SAVOR: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience in New York City. This event sells out annually to 2,500 enthusiasts across each session. Cheesemakers with an interest in having their products sampled at SAVOR may contact ACS to learn more.  


ACS members who are also members of the Specialty Food Association (formerly NASFT) can reserve a booth in the ACS Pavilion at the Winter and Summer Fancy Food Shows. During Fancy Food Show space draw, our cheesemaker members can request a space in the pavilion. Specialty food producers and distributors can request a space near the pavilion. Availability for both areas is limited, as they are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Members benefit tremendously from being part of the pavilion -- one of the only areas on the show floor where similar products are exhibited together. It's a real destination for those seeking American cheeses.


Member cheeses on display at SAVOR: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience

ACS also partners with other national and regional consumer events throughout the year to promote our members' products. We hope you'll take advantage of these great opportunities! For more details on any of our events, please contact Rebecca Orozco or call 720-328-2788.  

Jana Hemphill

Member Services Specialist 


Progress So Far, and a Webinar 


On April 3, members of the ACS Judging & Competition Committee led an educational webinar geared toward our cheesemaker members. While all ACS members were encouraged to join us for the 90 minute online session, the topic was focused specifically on online entry, category changes, and best shipping practices.


ACS Programs & Operations Director Michelle Lee covered changes to the 2013 entry process, including ACS's initiative to go "green" by mailing a postcard to participants, as well as the changes that were made to our online entry system. The online entry system holds two primary functions: The first is to streamline the entry process and make it fast and accurate. Once a cheesemaker has entered and locked in the details about a specific entry, they are able to move through the process even faster in following years. This year, 2012 entrants will have the option to duplicate and then modify last year's entries, to help expedite their entry process. The second goal of the online entry system is to go paperless, and strive towards a more "green" competition process.


Next in the webinar, John Greeley talked about 2013 category changes. This included some minor changes, some not so minor changes, and a few brand-new categories. There is already a lot of buzz about a very popular style of cheese that has never been judged in our forum before -- cheese curds. We encourage you to review all of the changes and additions for 2013. We are always happy to answer any questions you may have about category selection for your entries. Please feel free to contact the ACS office at 720-328-2788 for clarification on entering your products.


I shared tips on how to safely get your cheeses to Madison, Wisconsin this summer. Remember, this year's receiving dates at the Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center are Thursday, July 25 and Friday, July 26. And, as a quick note, if you are entering fresh curds for judging, then Friday the 26th is the best day for curds to arrive. We will have a special judging team on site immediately following the receiving days to make sure curds are evaluated while they are as fresh as possible.


Finally, David Grotenstein presented a pictorial review of the cheese receiving process, including triage, sorting, organizing, and storing the entries after they arrive at the convention center. There is a tremendous amount of care taken when entering and packing cheeses, and the Judging & Competition Committee wants to assure you that all cheeses are handled with the care and respect that they deserve.


A special "shout out" should be given to the ACS staff in Denver. Thanks again to Jane Bauer, Steve Binns, and Michelle Lee for their work in making this webinar a success. It was recorded and is available for members to view at any time.


Finally, judges are locked in for the 2013 Judging & Competition. I would like to thank them in advance for being so instrumental in seeing that your cheeses are evaluated respectfully and professionally. 

AFI Large Logo
The 2013 ACS Judging & Competition is sponsored by Atlanta Foods International


We look forward to seeing you and your cheeses in Madison!


Tom Kooiman
Vice Chair
ACS Judging & Competition Committee

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