Seventeen U.S. dairy processors, accounting for 68% of U.S. milk production, have committed to voluntary best practices for enhanced dairy traceability established by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, the organization said Wednesday.
"We want the United States to be the global leader in dairy traceability," said Dermot Carey, chairman of the Innovation Center's Traceability Subcommittee. "When we announced these traceability standards in September, our ambitious goal was to have 80% of the milk supply covered within a year.
Now, most of the large processors have committed to the standards, but to hit the goal, processors of all sizes must join in, Carey says.
"Enhanced traceability is important because, in the rare event of a safety issue, what happens to one U.S. processor can affect the brands of every U.S. processor, as well as the entire U.S. dairy industry."
The Innovation Center considers enhanced traceability guidelines a priority not only for improving global competitiveness, but also for supporting customer and consumer confidence.
The new guidelines do not affect producers and on-farm practices, the organization says, but in a food safety crisis, enhanced traceability standards would quickly isolate products to protect public health and prevent brand damage to the broader U.S. dairy industry.
A full report explaining how processors can implement the practices can be found on the Center's website. To quickly evaluate if facilities already meet enhanced traceability best practices, processors can download a 21-point traceability checklist for processing plants.
All the traceability resources are based on the Innovation Center's three pillars of U.S. dairy traceability: Modeling physical plants to know where new lots enter and where products transform, creating a lot identifying mark that will be recognized and used by customers, and enhanced record-keeping that will assist in expedient and effective recall capability.
The guidelines were created out of the Food and Drug Administration's call for food safety reform under the Food Safety Modernization Act.
"We encourage all processors to make the traceability commitment," said Edith Wilkin, a subcommittee member. "Our one-year goal is within reach but our ultimate goal is continued safety for people around the world who enjoy U.S. dairy products."
The 17 dairy processors who most recently have committed to the best practices are:
• Associated Milk Producers Inc.
• California Dairies, Inc.
• Dairy Farmers of America
• Foremost Farms USA
• Glanbia Foods
• Hilmar Cheese Company
• HP Hood
• Land O'Lakes
• Leprino Foods
• Michigan Milk Producers Association
• Select Milk Producers
• Schreiber Foods
• Swiss Valley Farms
• United Dairymen of Arizona
To learn more about dairy traceability, see the Innovation Center's traceability section at www.dairytraceability.com.