Marcoot Jersey Creamery Comprehensive Food Safety Program

2014 Annual 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

Marcoot Jersey Creamery Comprehensive Food Safety Program


Comprehensive Food Safety Program for dairy farm and farmstead artisan cheese on Marcoot Jersey Creamery.

Objectives/Performance Targets

To initiate a viable food safety program, the work began with gathering information from regulatory agencies and guidelines or Standards of Practice from appropriate Industry Associations.  This information gathered accomplishes two goals: 
1) to learn what is expected and
2) to gain the understanding that there are few individuals who are instantly experts in food safety.  Becoming a food safety expert for one’s operation is not a destination.  It must be understood early on that this is a journey; that individuals must seek appropriate and accurate information ongoing.  On this journey one becomes more informed than before but it is not a quick fix venture.  The more one learns some questions are answered while other questions arise.  Therefore goal 2) is to understand expectations and how they are applied to Marcoot Jersey Creamery (MJC) at this time.  Realization that food safety knowledge is not conclusive but it is continuously evolving through research and careful practice.  New information is emerging momentarily therefore regulations and standards of practice are updated to reflect the emerging information gleaned from research and practice.

This is an exciting time to focus on food safety.  The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is experiencing the “most sweeping reform of our food safety laws in more than 70 years” (1) with the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).  On January 4, 2011 President Obama signed FSMA into law.  “It aims to ensure the US food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it” ( Regulation/FSMA/default.htm ). The newly established rules complicated progress with disadvantages and advantages this past year, which will be mentioned throughout this narration.  A disadvantage complicating the development of the food safety program is that many aspects of the FSMA are newly addressed or have not been addressed at this time.  The advantage is that as the FSMA proposes a new rule there is a comment period in which the general public has the opportunity to study the proposal and make comments which will be reviewed and considered in establishing the new regulation.  With Marcoot Jersey Creamery’s (MJC) heightened awareness and focus on food safety in our operation we have the opportunity to actually participate in the establishment of the new regulations.

This grant enabled MJC to use $500.00 to purchase a laptop computer, which was used to gather information.  The internet is a wealth of information from state and federal regulatory agencies as well as Associations and Industry. 

Goal 3) evolved as MJC became able to share the vision of the FSMA to prevent contamination from occurring.  This mind set is very important to attain early on by all individuals in the facility.  MJC learned when uncertain about the meaning of a regulation it is certainly worth the time and effort to research and ask questions of knowledgeable individuals to find clarity. MJC developed an excellent working relationship with our Regional Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) inspector.  We very much appreciated our inspector taking time to check our list of resources to begin our research.  The list of resources includes: 
* USDA Grade “A” Pasteurized Milk Ordinance(PMO)
* IDPH Refrigerated Foods in Reduced Oxygen Packaging
* IDPH Grade A Milk and Milk Products Act
* University of Connecticut: Food Safety Plans for Artisan Cheese Makers
* USDA Guidebook for Preparation of HACCP Plans
* The Ohio State University Extension HACCP Plan Implementation and Record Management
* US FDA:  Hazards and Controls Guide for Dairy Foods HACCP
* USDA Agricultural Services Dairy Programs: Milk for Manufacturing Purpose and its Production and Processing
* USDA: National Food Service Management Institute: HACCP-based Standard Operating Procedures
* Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and International Dairy Federation: Guide to Good Dairy Farming Practice.

The goal to gain knowledge continued with MJC representatives attending the American Cheese Society meeting, Wisconsin Cheese Originals, The National Jersey Cattle Club National meeting, IDPH Food Safety Symposium, The World Dairy Expo, and the International Livestock Expo.  Subscriptions were obtained to the USDA FSMA list serve, where emails are automatically sent as FSMA is updated, and Food Safety Magazine (printed monthly).  MJC representatives keep an open communication relationship with our IDPH Regional inspector, acting immediately upon their recommendations.

Now all this information is available what to do with it?  A skeleton plan was developed with major topics that must be addressed in priority order individualized specifically for MJC operations. The laptop purchased earlier was used for documentation purposes. 

Priority #1:  Assure milk and dairy products are safe.  Therefore testing was instituted utilizing approximately $2287.50 provided by the grant, for both the dairy farm (fluid milk) and the creamery (product throughout stages of production).  A self-inspection was developed and implemented of every aspect on the farm side: animal health and handling from pregnancy thru animal maturity and facilities, employee practices including personal hygiene, and for the creamery: milk handling, production, storage, packaging and employee practices including personal hygiene.

From this self-inspection, inflations in the milking parlor were noted for wear and replaced utilizing $400.00 from the grant.  Cleaning of the cows’ udders and teats were studied using dips versus sanitizing wipes.  In the Creamery, self-inspection of facilities and processes were developed and implemented.  Purchases to implement improvements included factory-certified milk testing thermometers for $385.00 provided by the grant and two sanitizing foot baths with $175.00 provided by the grant. The HACCP program was initiated and implemented in the Creamery, including all eight steps of the HACCP program.  An excel spread sheet was developed and is routinely utilized as a make sheet as well as a HACCP monitor, also utilizing the laptop purchased by the grant.



1. From regulatory agencies and associations – learned what is expected in this industry.       
2. Gained understanding that an excellent food safety program is comprehensive covering all practices and facilities within the establishment.       
3. Gained understanding that an excellent food safety program must be updated ongoing.       
4. Gained understanding the focus of food safety is to proactively prevent an unsafe food practice before it becomes a food contamination.       
5. Food safety is a mindset that must be shared by all facets of the operations.       
6. Self-monitoring a food safety program is necessary.       
7. Since our cows are grass fed, washing/sanitizing is most effective depending on the type of contamination that is on the cow’s udder- when the cows are on grass and temperatures are warm to moderate versus when they are confined and temperatures are very cold.
8. Establish Standard Operating Procedures for Dairy Farm and Creamery which is the foundation for a successful Food Safety Program.
9. Established and implemented HACCP program for Creamery and completed initial steps on HACCP plan for Dairy Farm.
10. Conducted training for 100% of staff.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Plans for 2014

1. Conclude development and implementation of standard operating procedures for dairy farm and creamery.       
2. Review, evaluation, adjust for improvements, and implement the HACCP program for the dairy farm and creamery. Purchasing 2 electronic tablets to allow documentation to enable prompt and accurate documentation on the farm and in the creamery of HACCP information.         
3. Establish employee orientation, ongoing routine training, annual competency, and evaluation program to assure continued food safety goals are met.       
4. Development of educational tools for others in industry       
5. Host tour of facilities for 60 individuals in the industry to explain process to others in the industry possibly through the University of Illinois Extension Services.       
6. Develop and implement updates on website for individuals in the industry to explain process to others in the industry possibly through the University of Illinois Extension Services.