Artisan/Farmstead Cheesemaker Food Safety Course to be Held in Virginia


The artisan cheese market continues to grow.  And making of small-batch cheese on the farm comes with the risk of food borne pathogens.  To help this emerging market stay lively and grow, the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association (SUDIA) will be sponsoring an Artisan/Farmstead Cheesemaker Food Safety Workshop on November 19, 2014 at Virginia Tech University at the Inn at Virginia Tech at Blacksburg, VA

Dr. Dennis D’Amico, Asst. Professor at University of Connecticut, Dairy Foods conducts the workshop and outlines some of the things he covers:

“This workshop, it’s a harmonized training program that we developed intended for artisan and small scale cheese makers, but also for regulators and inspectors and even retailers, or anyone interested in learning more about some of the unique safety aspects that are related to this sort of emerging industry.”

D’Amico says the information in the workshop covers all species:

“Not tailored to any sort of species, the information in generalized.  When I talk about cow’s milk, I also have references for sheep and goat.”

One of the major focuses of the workshop is food safety and prevention of the four major food borne pathogens, salmonella, e. Coli, listeria and staph food poisoning:

“That’s the major focus, basically there’s four major pathogens.  We talk about those, the characteristics of them, and where they come from on the farm, and in the cheese facility, how to keep them out of the cheese facility and then we go into great depth on what happens during cheese manufacture of all these unique varieties that these cheese producers are making.  “What’s the difference if you’re making a cheddar cheese versus a Brie cheese? “, “ What are the things you need to worry about that are different between these two cheeses with these organisms that we’re worried about?”.

The workshop also covers regulations and inspection criteria explains D’Amico:

“In the class we also cover a lot of how this relates to regulations because that’s a really important aspect.  We can talk about pathogens and cheese and how to keep them out, and all these things, but a lot of really comes down to what are going to do when you get an inspection, what is the FDA, and what is your state going to be looking for, what are they going to be testing for, what kind of documentation should you have. A lot of that other sort of important aspects…I weave those in and out throughout the day…what kind of testing should you be doing, what kind of testing will your state be doing, all those different aspects, as well.”

D’Amico outlines what he feels is the take away from his workshop:

“I think the take home for people is that it’s a great educational class to prepare them for upcoming regulation and other workshops that may be available on food safety and things like that.  This is mostly focused on teaching why we’re doing what we’re doing instead of how to fill out a form, it’s why is this form required, and what is it really looking at, and why are we concerned with these temperatures and pathogens and things.  So, it’s really a good educational foundation for preparing yourself for taking the next step in terms of forthcoming regulations and oversight.”

Cost of Workshop is $ 49.  For more information or to register, visit

Asst. Professor at University of Connecticut, Dr. Dennis D’Amico,

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.