Category: Events

Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy: Bringing Together People with Resources and Education

Nelson-Jameson strives to not only be a resource of products, programs, services, and industry expertise, but to also be of service to the food industry and focus on the mutually shared goal of food safety and quality. This allows us to work with a whole host of professional organizations, academic programs, regulatory agencies, etc. Over the past several months, we have enjoyed engaging and becoming active with the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy Food Safety Team. You may or may not be familiar with this volunteer organization, and even if you are, you may be surprised by the remarkable scope of resources available…   

The Innovation Center for US Dairy is a consortium of dairy industry producers, educators, and organizations that gather to align “pre-competitive priorities, drive progress and speak with one voice.” In terms of what Nelson-Jameson does on a daily basis, the Center’s food safety programs/materials have been especially beneficial as a welcome food safety resource. Their approach to their Food Safety Committee is based on four core strategies:

  1. Industrywide sharing of best practices to drive continuous improvement.
  2. Disseminate best practices via training, tools, and guidance documents.
  3. Support artisan, farmstead, and small dairy manufacturers.
  4. Identify new solutions through research.

This involves numerous industry stakeholders aligned into several key areas: the Innovation Center Committee, the Artisan Cheese Advisory Team, the Artisan Ice Cream Advisory Team, and a targeted Listeria Research Consortium. Along with pushing best practices and research forward, the Innovation Center heavily focuses on sharing information and resources for use by all industry stakeholders focused on each of these areas.      

If you browse through the  Innovation Center website, you will find an array of workshops, webinars, Spanish-language tools, etc. in areas as diverse as sustainability, animal care, nutrition, food safety, and community relations. Whatever portion of the dairy industry you fall into (and even for those outside of the industry interested in topics like food safety), exploring the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy will provide you a tremendous resource to assist with the process of making safe, quality food.   


June is Dairy & Safety Month!

June is an important time of year here at Nelson-Jameson, not only is it June Dairy month, but it is also recognized as National Safety month! We find these two topics to be important in the success of our business—being a single source food, dairy, and beverage processing plant supplier. Some questions you may be pondering are, “How did these two topics become nationally recognized and what makes them so important?” and “How do they relate to Nelson-Jameson?” Here is an overview of the correlation:

Dairy Month:

June Dairy Month started out as National Milk Month in 1937 as a way to promote drinking milk, and was a way to distribute extra milk during the warm summer months. According to American Dairymen®, “This month was initially created to stabilize the dairy demand when production was at a surplus, but has now developed into an annual tradition that celebrates the contributions the dairy industry has made to the world” (June is National Dairy Month, pp. 1).

Nelson-Jameson has been an active participant in local activities throughout the Marshfield area to represent the supporting role we play in the dairy industry. The two main activities we volunteered for were the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce Dairyfest Drive-Thru Breakfast and the Marshfield Dairyfest Reverse Parade. Both activities involved volunteering directly with the community and expressing thanks to all individuals who make the dairy industry as successful as it is today.

In 1947 when Nelson-Jameson was founded, the main goal was to serve as a comprehensive resource for dairy plants. Once the founders realized their original Illinois location wasn’t ideal, it was decided to move the business to Marshfield, Wisconsin—the heart of dairy production. With roughly 7,000 dairy farms actively running throughout Wisconsin, Marshfield is a great centralized location.

Safety Month:

June Safety Month was founded by the National Safety Council (NSC) in 1996 where the goal was to increase awareness of the leading safety and health risks, and ultimately decrease the number of unintentional injuries and deaths in the United States. According to the NSC, the United States is seeing the highest number of workplace deaths since 2007. With 5,333 fatal workplace injuries in 2019, this observance is more important than ever (June is National Safety Month).

With a different topic covered each week, here is a recap of what topics were covered for this year’s National Safety Month.

Week 1 – Prevent Incidents Before They Start: Identifying risks and taking proactive safety measures to reduce hazard exposure on important topics from ergonomics to chemical management is crucial to creating a safe workplace.

Week 2 – Address Ongoing COVID-19 Safety Concerns: As the pandemic continues, employers play an important role in expanding operations and returning remote workers to physical workspaces, building trust around vaccines, supporting mental health and so much more.

Week 3 – It’s Vital to Feel Safe on the Job: Being able to be one’s self at work without fear of retaliation is necessary for an inclusive safety culture. Leading organizations focus not only on physical safety, but psychological safety as well.

Week 4 – Advance Your Safety Journey: Safety is all about continuous improvement. Whether organizationally or individually, NSC can help provide guidance for your path forward.

At Nelson-Jameson, we keep safety in the forefront of our minds everyday not only in the office, but in our distribution centers as well. Aside from Nelson-Jameson employees practicing safety in their everyday work environment, we also offer a large selection of products to help you keep your employees safe as well. From head and face protection, to protective clothing and footwear, to safety equipment and supplies, we offer products to not only protect your employees from injury, but also food products from possible contamination. Click here to download our Safety & PPE catalog, or request a printed copy of this catalog today!

Nelson-Jameson is proud to recognize both National Dairy and Safety Month. We recognize these months by showing appreciation to the important players in the dairy industry, and offering products and services to help keep your employees safe, and practicing workplace safety.

Sources:

Twin Rivers Media. (2015, April 22). June is National Dairy Month. American Dairymen®. https://www.americandairymen.com/articles/june-national-dairy-month.

VelocityEHS. (n.d.). June is National Safety Month. National Safety Council. https://www.nsc.org/work-safety/get-involved/national-safety-month.


The Food Safety Modernization Act: An Undertaking in Progress

Ten years…that’s a long time, right?  But…not really.  The more I see 10th, 20th, or 25th anniversary releases of favorite albums or movies, the more I feel like time is slipping away…and ten years seems more like a blink.   So, when you consider the dichotomy of the slow and all-too-quick hands of time, it’s impressive how much has been accomplished, and yet how far we have to go in food safety since the Food Safety Modernization Act was enacted in early 2011.   

As much as it would be great to go with either a “yay” or “nay” as to whether it has been a success, like many pieces of major legislation, there have been both phenomenal strides as well as stagnation.  As food safety is a complex undertaking, involving waves of domestic and global political and trade relations, budgetary concerns, etc., the quality assurance of the Act itself can be a challenge at times.  As we’ll see though, overwhelmingly, FSMA has represented a tectonic shift in approaching food safety concerns, and has set the table (yes, that just happened) for increasing advances in the coming years.

The data suggests that we do have a long way to go.  The CDC succinctly summarized this in “Preliminary Incidence and Trends of Infections with Pathogens Transmitted Commonly Through Food — Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, 10 U.S. Sites, 2016–2019” stating that: “The incidence of most infections transmitted commonly through food has not declined for many years.”  Although disappointing to those invested and concerned about food safety, it is important to remember that FSMA is not a stagnant absolute, existing in a vacuum of regulatory comfort.

Instead, FSMA, like food safety itself, is a continuously evolving and changing entity.  To respond to new science and to new challenges, FSMA depends on building on foundational scientific knowledge, while adeptly adjusting to the reality of challenges of the time (COVID-19 being a great example).  Though there is a long way to go, FSMA has achieved numerous outcomes that have been important to the industry and to the march towards a safer food system.   

As Sandra Eskin, of Pew Charitable Trusts, noted in a recent food safety session at IDFA’s Dairy Forum, the reality is that while FSMA is ten years old, the compliance dates established to meet the goals of FSMA are only now a few years old. This complicates our “FSMA at 10” theme a bit, but we can surmise a great deal from both those years of buildup and those of ennactation/enforcement.   Here is a sampling of what has been accomplished by FSMA so far, as outlined by Deputy Commissioner of Food Safety Frank Yiannas in his “A Decade Later, FDA Still Working on Congressional Mandate Known as FSMA:”

  1. Food producers “must have food safety plans that include an analysis of hazards and risk-based preventive controls to minimize or prevent these hazards.”  
  2. Improved “regulatory oversight of produce and food importers.”
  3. Implemented practices to prevent food safety risks during transportation.
  4. Gained: “additional enforcement authorities, such as mandatory recall when a manufacturer fails to voluntarily pull unsafe food from the market and suspension of registration to prevent a facility from selling or distributing unsafe food.

To add to these and other advances, the FDA this year encouragingly released their “New Era of Food Safety” blueprint, laying out areas of development in the next decade of FSMA.   Along with increased traceability initiatives, meaningful use of technology, and business/retail model modernization, the blueprint centrally is built upon creating “food safety cultures.”  This means making food safety a shared goal by everyone in the plant, in the supply chain, and beyond—top down and bottom up investment–everyone is in on it.  This should further encourage that “tectonic shift” mentioned previously, fundamentally shifting existing perspectives on food safety in the industry.  The ability to shape the future of food safety and cultures of food safety will be dependent on education, industry/regulatory/academic partnership, collaboration, and advocacy on Capitol Hill, just as the shifting of views from reactionary to preventative action required these first ten years.  

As Dick Groves stated in his editorial in the Jan. 15th issue of The Cheese Reporter, “Simply put, the food safety culture matters more than regulations.”  Groves makes a good point about the centrality of food safety culture; however, perhaps it is a mixture of conceptual shifts and continued dependence on education and partnership to further spread the gospel of food safety and regulatory knowledge/standards (consider that not having an adequate hazard analysis is still one of the most commonly cited violations by the FDA) that will make the next ten years truly effective in the fight against foodborne illness. 

Ten years indeed can feel conversely like an eternity and a blink of an eye.  The first decade of FSMA has been an experiment in adaptation.  And it will continue to be so for the next ten, marrying the realities of regulatory standards with an embrace of a holistic framework of food safety and food safety culture at all levels (including establishing this at the federal level…which is crucial for funding).  Together we can continue to learn, improve, and work together towards this common goal.  Food safety is not a destination, it is a journey.  We must continue working together as an industry to reduce risk in the food supply chain, relentlessly combatting foodborne illness.  No matter how far we are able to push that boulder up the hill, there will always be further to go. Many hands make light work, though, so let’s all commit to the effort and make the next 10 years count.

Source(s):

Marler Clark. (2021, February 9). FDA’s data for 2020 shows top five violation categories at food facilities. Food Safety News. https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2021/02/fdas-data-for-2020-shows-top-five-violation-categories-at-food-facilities/?utm_source=Food%2BSafety%2BNews&utm_campaign=280373c947-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f46cc10150-280373c947-40046447#.


Visit Us at CheeseExpo!

Has it been awhile since you have seen your friends at Nelson-Jameson? Well there is a great opportunity next month to catch up. Stop by our booth, #717 at CheeseExpo April 14th – 16th. The show, which is the largest dairy industry trade exposition in North America, will be held at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee, WI.

Many familiar faces from Nelson-Jameson will join more than 3,500 processors and supplier partners in the international cheese, butter, and whey industries who will be attending the show.

We hope you are able to stop by! We always look forward to the chance to have some extra face-to-face time with our customers. Check out the link to register now. Use our promo code EXHIBITS for a FREE pass—including access to the exhibit hall, receptions, and lunches!


When it Comes to Food Safety, You Can Never Have Too Much Class…

During our conversations with regulatory folks, a common theme has developed.   Overwhelmingly, regulators have stressed the importance of a “culture of food safety”.   This means that food safety isn’t relegated to only a few individuals in a plant. Instead, a culture of food safety is one where a business has inclusively brought in ALL stakeholders, from CEOs to part-time employees to learn, practice, and respect food safety standards.   Instead of viewing food safety as only rules that have to be followed or marks to simply check off on a sheet, food safety becomes a mindset and unifying goal across the plant and across the company.

We’ve also noticed that the most effective method to create this culture is through education and practice. The more employees learn about food safety, its importance to their customers’ safety, its importance to the financial well-being of the company, etc. the more people pay attention and invest in food safety concerns.   

With all that in mind, Nelson-Jameson aims to keep our customers informed through educational opportunities to help create that culture of food safety.   Such opportunities/workshops pay off directly not only in the immediate experience of the students attending them, but also to the companies sending them when that knowledge is brought back, shared, and applied in the facility.   Here are a few of the upcoming opportunities to learn more:

University of Wisconsin-River Falls will offer a “HAACP Workshop” that is open to “all food processors, suppliers, and regulators who wish to learn or review the basics of HACCP in a food facility” March 18-20th.   The workshop will cover “ food safety hazards, prerequisites, validation of HACCP plans, implementing HACCP, and regulation” via hands-on experiences. To find out more, click here for information on the program, fees, etc.   

On May 6th, the Center for Dairy Research will host a day-long “Food Safety Workshop (HACCP)” in Madison, WI.   Also, open to a spectrum of attendees, the class is a hands-on “introduction to HACCP in a plant setting” where students will learn about topics from environmental monitoring to GMPs.   Further information is available on the CDR website.  

Keep an eye out for further food safety opportunities here on our blog.   In the meantime, we are here as well to help provide you with the products and programs that can help you reach and maintain quality and food safety standards.