Marcoot Jersey Creamery Comprehensive Food Safety Program

Final Report for FNC13-918

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2013: $7,495.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Region: North Central
State: Illinois
Project Coordinator:
Beth Marcoot
Marcoot Jersey Creamery
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Project Information


Final Report 2015 -Marcoot Jersey Creamery Food Comprehensive Food Safety Program

Due to our updated comprehensive food safety/defense program we are presently selling 110% of our cheese that is being produced. Our dairy herd has increased to keep up the demands. We have increased employees on our farm and creamery. We are confident we provide a high quality product. Our comprehensive food safety/defense program has allowed substantial growth, therefore, assuring sustainability of our family farm.


Marcoot Jersey Creamery (MJC) is a value-added farmstead artisan creamery on Marcoot Jersey Farm, Inc in Greenville, IL. MJC is grass-based rotational grazing operation milking 65 Registered Jersey cattle. In 2009, the family began to research the different options to add value to our milking herd. In the summer of 2009, a 3200 square feet processing facility with an on-farm store and education facility was added. In March 2010 the Marcoot family began making the first wheels of cheese.

Project Objectives:
Project Goals

To initiate a viable food safety program based on regulatory agencies and guidelines or Standards of Practice from appropriate Industry Associations.

1) to learn what is expected and
2) to gain understanding of food safety expectations and how they apply to Marcoot Jersey Creamery (MJC) at this time.
3) studying and developing a mindset in line with regulatory guidelines including the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This has been accomplished through much study on our own but by attending Food Safety programs with high standards such as: Food Safety and HACCP Programs for on farm, presented by Dr. Dennis D'Amico, University of Connecticut attended by John and Linda Marcoot; 10-day Cheese Making courses presented by Peter Dixon, Manchester, VT attended by Amy, Beth Marcoot and Audie Wall; all MJC employees completing successfully ServSafe National Food Sanitation Managers Course including the National Examination to gain the Illinois Department of Public Health Food Service Managers (Food Safety) Certification; as well as ongoing in-service training to all MJC staff.


Materials and methods:

Phase I involved analysis of daily routine in food handling (including raw milk prior to cheese manufacturing), equipment cleaning and sanitizing methods, and personal hygiene practices of all staff and their effects on food safety of our products. Phase II, a proactive food safety plan, including a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) program was developed, implemented and evaluated for effectiveness (ongoing) with revisions as necessary to continuously improve quality, maintaining highest possible standards of our products. Phase III is a comprehensive employee training program, including competency for identifying specific needs for retraining and competency program to assure there is a clear understanding and practice of established standard operating procedures and HACCP program. Phase IV involves sharing of information gathered with others in the dairy industry so others may use this information in establishing their own food safety programs.

Research results and discussion:

MJC Comprehensive Food Safety program achieved high scores and certification by third party audit by the highly acclaimed AIB International, verifying the accuracy of the MJC Comprehensive Food Safety Program. On January 15, 2016  Beth and Linda Marcoot spoke at the GrassWorks Conference in Wisconsin Dells, WI.  We had 20 minutes to present our "How to Start a Creamery" manual.  This manual offers the guidelines to be able to start the planning process of producing dairy products.  This guide provides hands-on step-by-step instructions for development of a food safety program for others in the industry. Although each facility will need to individualize the program to their specific needs this will provide a template that may be used to initiate the food safety program development.

Increased milking herd by 50% to meet the demands of our cheeses in the market. Most of these accounts require documentation of our comprehensive food safety program.

Impact of Results/Outcomes

MJC Comprehensive Food Safety program achieved high scores and certification by third party audit by the highly acclaimed AIB International, verifying the accuracy of the MJC Comprehensive Food Safety Program.

Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

Participation Summary:

Education/outreach description:

How to Start a Creamery:

 Food Safety & Defense Plan


By Linda Marcoot, RD, MBA & Beth Marcoot,

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Food safety/defense coordinator training
  • FSMA
  • FDA Inspection Guidelines
  • Food Facility Registration with FDA
  • Prerequisite Programs (PPs) or Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
  • Develop Hazardous Analysis Critical Control Points(HACCP) Plan or Hazardous Analysis Risk-based Preventive Control (HARPC) Plan
  • HACCP Plan Design
  • Recall/Traceability Program
  • Consumer Complaint Program
  • Food Defense Plan
  • Third Party Audits
  • Conclusion


This manual is guide to the first steps in creating a food safety and food defense plan for a starting creamery.  Most of the information you will find in the document is from the FDA website,  Our goal is to inform one beginning a creamery on the different ways to navigate through the startup process.

When thinking and gathering information to create a sustainable farm by processing any type of human food product, development of the food safety/defense plan (food safety refers to accidental contamination and food defense refers to intentional contamination or adulteration of the food product) should be considered equal with development of the business plan, arranging finance, and all other aspects of the planning process. 

An individual or team should be designated in the organization to be food safety/defense coordinators.  This coordinator should be or become educated in reliable food safety/defense.  A food safety consultant may be complimentary but WARNING – make sure the information is reliable.  This will take investment of time, effort, and money.  This will be ongoing, expect changes in regulations, continuous an ongoing staff education, and continuous monitoring and evaluation of the food safety/defense plan. And do not completely rely on a consultant this is your business and it is your business to be knowledgeable about your food safety program! But a good consultant should be one that empowers by not only sharing knowledge but also provides guidance on identifying reliable resources, inspires development of processes that will improve effectiveness of operations.  A good consultant should enable you to grow in independence. 

  1. Food Safety/Defense Coordinator Training

Basic Food Safety Training –

  1. – National Restaurant Association. Can download printable Food Handler or for a fee online Food Service Sanitation Manager Certification Course.  (Refers to retail food safety and sanitation, but very good basicall microbiology and personal hygiene.)
  2. – FREE- many training programs available. Recommend Serving It Safe for basic sanitation similar to ServSafe
  3. Free Subscription to Food Safety Magazine -
  4. Illinois Technical Institute has partnered with the Food Drug Administration (FDA) to develop and make training for Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) for small and medium size food manufacturers -
  5. Basic Foodborne Illness Microbiology

  1. - A nationwide law firm representing victims of foodborne illness.  This website reports failures of the food provider leading to foodborne illness in specific cases.  Also provides general information about specific pathogenic microorganisms.
  2. Foodborne Illness Microbiology – Bag Bug Book
  3. Food Drug Administration (FDA) free publications -
  4. FDA Overview of Food Business
  5. FDA Employee Health and Hygiene Interactive Training -
  6. FDA Employee Health and Hygiene Workbook downloadable -
  7. Additional Training resources

    Food Defense - “If See Something, Say Something Suspicious Activity”- (Printable Fact Sheet for Employee Training on Food Defense)

    Food Defense 101 (including ALERT)  - (printable certificate at conclusion of online course)

    Food Defense - Employees are the FIRST Line of Defense – (printable posters – multiple languages)

    FDA Pest Control in Food Establishments – (online training with review questions to verify knowledge gained)

    Food Defense  - FREE-B (“The Food Related Emergency Exercise Bundle (FREE-B) is a compilation of scenarios based on both intentional and unintentional food contamination events” )

    Prevention – Listeria Fact Sheet

    Prevention – Salmonella Fact Sheet

    Prevention – E Coli Fact Sheet

    Listeria – Food Safety Magazine (basic Microbiology)

    E Coli – Food Safety Magazine (basic Microbiology)

    Salmonella – Food Safety Magazine (basic Microbiology)

    Food Defense - What’s in Store:  Ordinary People, Extraordinary Events (online video Training)

    Food Defense -Report Suspicious Activity – Fact Sheet

    Food Defense Fact Sheet

  8. More FDA training resources -

  9. Third party audit companies – useful but often very expensive


  1. FSMA-Food Safety Modernization Act

A good starting point is to understand regulation.  “In accordance to the Food Drug Administration (FDA), Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the most sweeping reform of our food safety laws in more than 70 years, was signed into law by President Obama January 4, 2011.  It aims to ensure the US food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it.” (

  1. FDA Inspection Guidelines

To gain awareness of expectations through an FDA inspection:

 FDA Inspection Guidelines for Dairy Products:   

And Interstate Milk Shippers List

  1. Food Facility Registration

The Public Health Security and Bioterrorist Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 directs the FDA… to take steps to protect the public from a threatened or actual terrorist attack on the U.S. food supply and other food related emergencies. ( To carry out this direction the FDA requires manufacturing begins the business must be registered on the Food Drug Administration “Food Facility Registration” on the internet website -  A step by step Guidance tool is available to assist in completing the Food Facility Registration.  The registration maybe completed as of January 1, 2016 must be completed online.  To actually fill in the online Food Facility Registration for go to -  Registration must be renewed each even numbered years from October 1 through December 31. Maintain a copy of the completed Food Facility Registration in your facility which contains the facility’s Registration number and pin number used to log on to account created for future updates.  Renewal is also required when a facility changes ownership.  

WARNING – There are companies that will complete the registration for you for a fee and send you a plaque with your information on it to display.  They will offer to register your facility every year.  This is not a regulatory requirement, it is costly, I recommend your facility identification number is kept in private documentation and not displayed to the public. The FDA requires you to register your facility on the even number years (e.g. 2016, 2018).

  1. Prerequisite Programs (PPs) or Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

To assure that expected practices are continuously in practice, procedures on everyday tasks are developed.  “Prerequisite programs (PPs) are universal procedures used to control the conditions of the plant environment that contribute to the overall safety of the product.” (Dairy HACCP- NCIMS HACCP Pilot Program )

Pasteurized Milk Ordinance -

PPs recommended to include (but be specific to your facility’s needs):

All staff are trained on PPs. Be sure to keep training documentation on all training completed. PPs are approved initially by the facility’s governing body or designated individual, reviewed at least annually and updated as necessary throughout the year.  PPs address any usual task in the facility.

  1. Develop Hazardous Analysis Critical Control Points(HACCP) Plan or Hazardous Analysis Risk-based Preventive Control (HARPC) Plan ,  resources include:
  1. Differences in HACCP and HARPC are explained simply in Food Safety Magazine Article: .  FDA regulation for HARPC has not been finalized at this time but to progress food safety program to HARPC is recommended.
  2. Guidebook for the Preparation of HACCP Plans 
    Dairy HACCP- NCIMS HACCP Pilot Program 

*Use these guides to critically specifically review each step of the process. 

Note: One individual must receive certified training in HACCP planning.  Keep this certification with HACCP Plan for regulatory review.  This could be a consult who is not an employee of the facility but who has assisted in development of the HACCP Plan and reassesses and modifies the HACCP Plan as necessary.

The HACCP plan must include:

Product Description

Process Flow Diagram

Question Checklist of Hazard Analysis Process

Identification of Hazard/Preventive Measures

Hazard Analysis for each product

HACCP Plan Development Form:  Monitoring Procedures and Frequency

HACCP Plan:  for each product identify critical limits, monitoring procedures and frequency, HACCP Records, Verification Procedures and Frequency and Corrective Actions for each step in the production process including receiving raw ingredients through storage of the finished product.

Record Keeping

Validation, Verification, and

Reassessment of the effectiveness of the HACCP Plan

Continuous and ongoing staff training


  1. Recall/Traceability Program

You can incorporated our Recall and Traceability Program with our HACCP program to expand toward a Hazardous Analysis Risk Preventive Control (HARPC) Program.  Although the regulation for HARPC has not been finalized the concept maybe incorporated. 

  • Traceability Program
    • Identification of ingredients including lot numbers, manufacturer name and address so that all product produced can be traced back to its origin
    • Identification of all products produced so that all products can be traced to consumer.
  • Recall Program

  1. Consumer Complaint Program

A facility must have a Consumer Complaint Program in place.  This can be a file with a specific form that has a series of questions for the customer filing the complaint.  The form should include basic information (name, date, product complaining about). Be sure to involve questions related to time of onset, was there a medical professional involved and the details, symptoms, etc.

          Online Voluntary Reporting for Serious Food/Beverage Allergic Reactions -

See Appendix A


  1. Food Defense Plan

  2. Food Defense training

  • Provides Food Defense training for Food Defense Coordinator with a printable certificate to be maintained in facility training records
  • Provides Food Defense training for all staff


  1. Food Defense Builder

-Provides a downloadable online database to create individualized and printable Food Defense Program.

  1. Vulnerability Assessment-Identifying Greatest Threats

  • Provides downloadable online software to create individualized and printable program. The software provides questions to be answered about the facility and process to help identify vulnerable areas by considering what type of attack is the greatest threat and whether a biological or chemical agent might be used in an attack.  The intent is that by conducting a vulnerability assessment of the food production facility and process, the user can then better focus resources on protecting the most susceptible points.
    • Vulnerability Assessment – Identifying Greatest Threats

    The National Center for Food Protection and Defense (NCFPD) is a research consortium that looks at our Nation’s food system with respect to the vulnerabilities of attack through intentional contamination with biological or chemical agents.

  1. Mitigation Strategies – Identifying Preventive Measures

  • Provides downloadable online database to create an individualized and printable program. Preventive measures are identified to protect the food in all stages of receiving ingredients, processing, storage, packaging, transporting the product to protect against intentional adulteration.
  1. CARVER Shock

  • Provides CARVER is an acronym for the following six attributes used to evaluate the attractiveness of a target for attack:
  • Criticality - measure of public health and economic impacts of an attack
  • Accessibility – ability to physically access and egress from target
  • Recuperability – ability of system to recover from an attack
  • Vulnerability – ease of accomplishing attack
  • Effect – amount of direct loss from an attack as measured by loss in production
  • Recognizability – ease of identifying target
  • In addition, the modified CARVER tool evaluates a seventh attribute, the combined health, economic, and psychological impacts of an attack, or the SHOCK attributes of a target.
  1. Third Party Audits

Considerations Third Party Audits –

Many buyers like Whole Foods require a Third Party Audit.  Third Party Audits are beneficial but can be costly. There are many companies that will offer an “Educational” audit before they will come in and complete the audit that will be on file.  The Educational audit is very informative and usually will follow the FDA guidelines.

Here is a good resource for more information on third party audits.


Developing a Food Safety and Food Defense program is essential to manufacturing food productions.  Maintaining an efficient and effective food safety program there must be ongoing practice, evaluation and education.  Food safety must be as actively pursued as any part of the business.

Appendix A: Customer Compliant Flow Chart

Link to the Manual:

How to start a creamery Food Safety Defense Programs I

Project Outcomes


Potential Contributions

Improved economic stability of the creamery and other dairy producers.

Future Recommendations

Keep an updated knowledge and practices of food sanitation and defense regulations.

Information Products

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.