In This Issue...
Director of FDA CFSAN to Speak at ACS Conference in Providence
Third Party Audits are the New Black
IDFA Regulatory RoundUp
FDA Raw Milk Sampling Assignment to be Completed July 1, 2015

Director of FDA CFSAN to Speak at ACS Conference in Providence


Join Dr. Susan Mayne, Director of FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition on Friday, July 31 from 8:30 AM - 10:00 AM at the Rhode Island Convention Center. Dr. Mayne is passionate about food safety and nutrition and their role in public health, as well as the intersection of science and policy. She will update ACS Conference attendees on issues affecting the cheese industry.


Dr. Mayne is an internationally recognized public health leader and scientist with rigorous training in nutrition, toxicology, and epidemiology. She has served as the C.E.A. Winslow Professor of Epidemiology and Chair, Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, as well as Associate Director of the Yale Cancer Center. 


To hear Dr. Mayne speak, register for ACS Cheese Camp 2015, the ACS Conference & Competition.


Third Party Audits are the New Black


Thanks to the introduction of 2010's FMSA, food safety is now grounded squarely where it should be for everyone in the food industry -- that is, top of mind. On Saturday, August 1 from 12:15 PM - 3:15 PM at the Rhode Island Convention Center, hear how Cathy Gaffney of Wegmans Food Markets and Cathy Strange of Whole Foods Market teamed with Lunds & Byerlys to establish a Retail Consortium which has jointly developed "Level One" third party audit requirements, and why this protocol is soon to be an industry standard. 


This group of leading specialty retailers is now requiring more from producers to ensure they are meeting, and often exceeding, the high food safety standards their customers have come to expect. The consortium of retailers will begin requiring the Level One audit effective July 1, 2015.


This session is offered as part of ACS Cheese Camp 2015, the ACS Conference & Competition.


IDFA Regulatory RoundUp


The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) held its Regulatory RoundUp session in Washington, DC on June 15 and 16. American Cheese Society (ACS) board director and Regulatory & Academic Committee member, Bob Wills, attended on behalf of ACS. Below are key takeaways for ACS members:


Mike Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), summarized the agency's strategy for implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). He stated that the emphasis will change from inspection and enforcement to creating systems, equipment, and facility standards that contribute to safe production and transportation. Moving away from a "one size fits all" regulatory approach, inspectors will be trained to evaluate the safety culture within a plant and to adjust their enforcement accordingly. Facilities with demonstrated effective programs will be treated differently than facilities that have not implemented and verified the effectiveness of their programs.


John Sheehan, Director, Division of Plant and Dairy Safety in the Office of Food Safety, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, addressed some of the issues of key import to ACS members.

  • Sheehan reiterated FDA's intention to expand the types of antibiotics for which milk buyers would test, and he emphasized that this would not increase the total amount of testing.
  • He explained that increased focus on Listeria monocytogenes (L.M.) is due to FDA's recent year analysis which estimates 2.4 million cases of listeriosis resulting in 108 hospitalizations and 18 deaths.
  • Sheehan reviewed findings to date from FDA's raw milk cheese sampling pilot program. Some 200 more domestic samples are needed to complete the project by its July 1, 2015 deadline (see details below). To date, 10% of cheeses sampled have had violations, most for generic (non-toxigenic) E. coli. Listeria was found in 5 domestic samples resulting in 4 recalls.
  • Sheehan stated that the agency is drafting an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) indicating the agency's current thinking on the 60-day aging requirement for unpasteurized cheese, and he mentioned the possibility of a Performance Standard in place of the 60-day aging rule. FDA subsequently provided clarification that this has been considered, but that the leadership was embracing an approach that will involve continuing outreach to stakeholders and expanding the conversation about the aging process for soft-ripened cheeses before making any decisions about next steps. ACS members should be prepared to make comment if and when the ANPR is released.

FDA Raw Milk Sampling Assignment to be Completed July 1


FDA's final push to complete its Raw Milk Cheese Sampling pilot program is currently underway. All imported cheese testing is complete, with the remainder of sampling focused on domestic cheeses. A total of 1,600 samples (70% imported, 30% domestic) will ultimately be collected and analyzed, which FDA hopes will provide a statistically significant data set to help identify potential vulnerabilities and inform the agency's decision-making by identifying short-term and long-term next steps. The goal of the pilot program is to attempt to learn how 60-day aged raw milk cheeses become contaminated with foodborne pathogens, and what patterns, if any, may help predict potential contamination in the future.


During these last few days of June, prior to FDA's July 1 deadline for completion of all sampling, producers and retailers can expect to see increased sampling in some regions. FDA has stressed that this increased sampling is not based on any findings or test results to date, but rather on the need to collect adequate samples from all regions to allow for statistically viable results. The following FDA District Offices are focusing on this final week of testing, with affected states/regions as noted:

  • New England: CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT
  • Minneapolis: MN, WI, ND, SD
  • Los Angeles: Southern CA and AZ
  • Florida: FL

While the remaining number of samples to be taken is not dramatic, members in these areas may expect to see increased sampling now through July 1.


ACS Best Practices Guide for Cheesemakers


The first draft of the ACS Best Practices Guide for Cheesemakers will be released at this year's ACS Conference in Providence, RI, ready for your comments. The Guide will be a living document and a work in progress to be updated, improved, and amended with the input of ACS members. As a unique community, we have the opportunity, and the obligation, to protect what we do and how we do it. When you take the time to read the Best Practices Guide and share your insights and expertise, you enhance not only the Guide, but also the standing of the industry. In Providence, make a pledge to submit your comments on the Guide -- when you do, you'll get an "ACS Cheesemakers Do It Best" button to show your commitment! 


Connect to ACS

Stay connected to ACS no matter where you are! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@CheeseSociety, #ACSCheeseCamp), or LinkedIn. Get the latest updates from the cheese community, connect with fellow cheesemakers, retailers and enthusiasts, and tell us what's happening in your world.