News Feature | June 17, 2014

Cornell University: The Big Cheese In Dairy Food Safety Outreach

Sam Lewis

By Sam Lewis, associate editor
Follow Me On Twitter @SamIAmOnFood

Dairy Food Safety Outreach At Cornell

The Ivy League research university’s Food Science Dairy Extension Program is helping dairy producers give consumers safe, high-quality products

According to Kathryn Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell, “The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Department of Food Science are committed to working with federal and state agencies and the food industry to generate appropriate scientific data for application by industry to produce safe food products, from the small artisanal scale to the large scale.”

In fact, the program is hosting an HACCP course for dairy producers at the Cornell campus this week while simultaneously working closely with dairy producers and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets to help understand and confront issues with the FDA’s newly issued policy concerning wooden boards for aging cheese. “The participants are being taught how to clean and sanitize different surfaces in food processing environments — exactly the skills that would be needed to implement consistent cleaning practices of wood boards, but also to clean and sanitize the overall facilities of any dairy processing and artisan cheese making operation,” says Martin Wiedmann, professor of food science and director of the Cornell Food Safety Lab.

Principles Of Hygienic Design In The Dairy Industry

The university’s collaborations with companies such as Wegmans and 3M have also been strengthened to help create and implement techniques dairy facilities can use to test for disease-causing organisms and create response strategies. Cornell’s partnership with Wegmans, now in its second year, provides financial backing to help cheese makers create and execute these sorts of testing methods. “In addition to the artisans in the Wegmans program, I work proactively with dozens and dozens of New York artisans to implement environmental testing programs and preventive control guidance and am in the process of helping them get this in place voluntarily,” says Rob Ralyea, senior dairy extension associate at Cornell.

Further, Cornell offers technical guidance and programs for certification in cheese making, milk processing, and fermented products to over 500 dairy industry professionals. The university is also involved with state and federal inspectors in training and re-certification. In efforts to keep this safety network on-going, Cornell is partnered with Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) to put the Department of Food Science as a national hub of superiority in food safety within the dairy industry. “Cornell is a world leader in food safety, and I commend them for all of the work they do to help ensure New York’s dairy farmers and cheese makers are leading the nation in quality and safety,” says Schumer. “I look forward to continuing to push for federal partnerships and grants that will help enhance Cornell’s work to grow New York’s dairy industry, which is a massive economic engine for the state.”