HACCP & other unrelated Digressions

I’ve been a bit negligent on this site recently but I thought you’d enjoy this picture of our senior cow Dizzy, (who I have to say is not), she’s a very staid middle aged cow, but her pedigree name given by her former owners is Braidwood Disney Aura, which is a bit of a mouthful to shout out in the paddock, & she seems to be quite happy being called Dizzy. She’s having a lactation rest at the moment while she is gestating. She, and her daughter Lily, who is expecting her first calf, should be welcoming their calves at the end of October when the paddocks in NZ should be green with spring growth.

There has been quite a bit of correspondence with MPI over my application for a ‘Significant Amendment’ to my RMP so I can make raw hard cheese to sell and I think things are progressing. I’ve sent them various HACCP charts on my milking and cheese making processes, for which I have to thank Dr Paul Neaves, a food microbiologist in the UK, for putting my long winded explanations into wonderful one page documents. Another reason for my lack of posts is that I wrote quite a long one, but ran out of day to finish it and the next day, when I went to finish editing it, I discovered it had disappeared into computer ether, which was annoying. Never mind, that’s life, I suppose.

I was looking though the nether regions of my rather chaotic desk and discovered this piece I wrote in 1994, a year before we moved here to Cwmglyn Farm. It has nothing to do with cheesemaking or HACCP documents and was a writing  execise whereby you had to write a piece incorporating the phrases ‘A spade upright in the soil’, ‘A stale loaf of bread’ and ‘Riding into the Sunset’. It was fun to write and I used an incident in my own family lore concerning my Great Grandmother and her sister. I’ve given everyone fictional names… Here goes….

“Jealousy is such a destructive emotion” said the old lady looking reflectively into the flames and poking the rather pathetic sticks to increase the blaze. We were having tea, one cold winter afternoon in her old fashioned front room. I, doing my monthly visit and feeling guilty that I should regard the little time I spent with her as a duty rather than a pleasure. I didn’t care to dwell too much on what she did on her other days -I suspect they were mostly spent alone -her remark, “the worst thing about longevity, my dear, is that one outlives all ones friends” was made with so much acceptance that I was suddenly afraid of the time when I, too, would be old and alone. Would I have her fortitude to accept such solitude or the painful signs of incipient poverty I’d seen in her small kitchen? She’d caught my intrusive glance at the stale loaf of bread in the open bread bin, as I helped her prepare a tray for afternoon tea. Her courageous “I’m saving that to make bread and butter pudding” displayed her spirit.

“Do you know, I haven’t had that for years” I said, to cover my confusion, “Martin always insists on wholemeal bread and it isn’t the same made with that.” We smiled at one another, acknowledging the small social skirmish gracefully executed as we made out way back to the front room. And now I smiled again and leaned back into my chair to enjoy another tale of family feuds and doings from her past.

“My Aunt Mary’s life was entirely ruined by her jealousy of Catherine. Sibling rivalry, I suppose you’d call it now.” My Great Aunt Helen kept herself remarkably well informed where jargon was concerned. I suspected her hours were often spent watching educational television programmes. “Catherine was a couple of years younger than Mary and a real beauty. Poor Mary had inherited the unfortunate Wilkes nose and had ginger frizzy hair that defied every effort of setting it into a fashionable style. She tried everything ever recommended in the woman’s magazines and a good deal else in desperation. But nothing worked.”

Unconsciously she patted her own smooth silver hair, looped gracefully from a center parting, covering her ears and knotted neatly behind. She was still a very handsome woman despite her wrinkled face and papery skin. “Mary, I’m afraid, was distressingly plain with a fearsome temper and was terrified of being left on the shelf. In those days, my dear, unmarried daughters in our family were expected to remain at home. Running off to get themselves educated or train for a career was not considered the thing, even if they were still unattached at the end of their second season. And poor Mary had had to endure the indignity of a third. Her parents, who were possibly considered a little old fashioned even then, assumed that their friends would think they hadn’t the means to support them if any of their girls embraced a career. So Mary had to suffer the humiliation of watching her pretty younger sister entertain and discard suitors by the dozen. I’m afraid she became very bitter. Can I persuade you to have another cup. my dear?”

Great Aunt Helen took my cup, emptied the contents into the slop basin and filled its silly fluted sides with more tea. I knew the liquid would be cold within minutes and wished she’d use her ordinary cups on my visits. They, at least, kept the tea hot.

“Had she no interests or activities to divert her?”

“None. Indeed had she some suitable occupation I dare say she wouldn’t have reacted as she did……Well, of course, the day came when Catherine became engaged. An American, but a lovely man for all that. He was very comfortably off, but his name! Sometimes I wonder where these Americans dream them up. Riding I.T.T. Sunset – I don’t like to think what the initials stood for nor what his parents were thinking to name their only son thus.” She shook her head and sighed, “But Americans are very strange, although very kind, I understand.  And Riding was the kindest man. I remember the wedding day very clearly -it was to be such a splendid day.” She paused to remember a day some seventy years before. “No expense was spared for the wedding. I was about 10 years old and to be a flower girl. I was so proud of my pretty dress with it’s blue satin sash and matching silk slippers. A big marquee had been set up on the lawn. The servants were up before dawn arranging everything to be just so. Henricks, the butler, had engaged extra staff, professional florists came in to decorate the church -and I can’t tell you what a rumpus that caused with the ladies who normally did the flowers at St. Michael’s. Mary was a bridesmaid and none too happy about that -as the older sister, she expected to be married first. In fact she had quite a tantrum when the engagement was announced because she said that Catherine ought to wait for her to be married first. But we all thought it had been smoothed over. And then, about two hours before the ceremony, Mary disappeared.

We hunted high and low for her, but nobody had seen her. Servants were dispatched to help in the search, family and wedding guests all roped in. My mother and Cousin Hetty, both disposed to having the vapours, vied with each other over possession of the smelling salts. Then one of the extra servants mentioned he’d seen a young lady dressed as a bridesmaid walking towards the river. He was bidden to join in the search. Riding, too, having had word there was some sort of upset at the house had come to offer assistance. So he joined in the search and it was he who found Mary’s clothes -her beautiful bridesmaid’s dress neatly folded by the river with her shoes on top and the lace parasol, furled by the side. Bare footprints were discovered at the river’s edge.”

“Goodness how terrible. What an awful shock. Whatever happened?”

“Of course the ceremony had to be cancelled, even at that late stage. Men were summoned from the village to help drag the river. Oh there was a terrible to-do. Guests had to be told and turned away and I saw Catherine sobbing her heart out in her room. I’d never seen a grown-up cry before. ‘I knew Mary meant to ruin my wedding, she’s a wicked, wicked person. I don’t think she’s drowned at all, she’s just done this out of spite. I know she has, it would be just like her’ “.

Great Aunt Helen took another drink of tea, replaced her cup and patted her lips dry with a small embroidered napkin. “Catherine was quite right, of course. Mary had indeed faked her ‘suicide’. She had obviously put some other clothes ready under a bush, walked down to the river’s edge in her bridesmaid’s gown, after making sure someone had seen her. She changed her frock, folded the other and carefully made her footprints in the mud. I presume she paddled along the riverbed until she could scramble out without leaving any tracks. She walked the five miles to Godalming and then took a train to Guildford. Alfred Tuttlebridge met her there by arrangement and she married him by Special Licence that day. They took a train to Folkestone and spent their honeymoon at the Clifton Hotel. Once the marriage was consummated, she sent a telegram home to the family telling them to stop looking for her corpse”.

“What an extraordinary story. I’m amazed that I never heard a whiff of it whispered in the family”.

“I think they were all too embarrassed about it, if the truth be told. Alfred Tuttlebridge wasn’t considered much of a catch and it was presumed that Mary only married him because he was fool enough to be manipulated by her. She was quite determined, you see, that she was to be married first and she knew she hadn’t a chance of making her nuptials more interesting than Catherine’s. I think that had Mr Tuttlebridge offered for her in the normal way, Mary or the family would have turned him down”. She turned and smiled at me, “he was always very kind to me. But Mary could induce him to do anything she wanted. I’m sure he had no idea at the time how his bride had wrecked her sister’s big day”

“And Catherine?”

Well Catherine and Riding’s marriage took place soon after Mary’s wire. It was a very happy day, despite Mary’s outrageous behaviour being the most talked about subject at the wedding. I’m sure that Catherine and Riding had more happiness in the few days left to them than ever Mary had in her years with Alfred. As you know, Catherine and Riding were drowned on their honeymoon voyage on the Titanic. And your grandfather Tuttlebridge died, too, later in the Great War. Killed, so we were informed, as he put his hand to a spade upright in the ground as he was digging in the trenches, poor man. I don’t think he ever knew much happiness.”

“From what I’ve heard, I don’t think my grandmother was ever a woman to engender it” I said. I only knew her from her embittered face, severe and trapped in a sepia photograph at home in the family album. She died when I was quite young.

I looked regretfully at the clock and realised that I would have to leave were I to catch my train in time. I stood up and kissed my Great Aunt. “I’ll see you soon,” I said, “don’t get up, I’ll see myself out.”

She smiled, dismissing me and settled back to her memories.

Copyright 1994 Biddy Fraser-Davies.

There you are, nothing about HACCP at all!

 

 

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Letters to & from MPI on a Monday Morning

This is the letter I sent the Approvals Team at NZ MPI this morning, while I was between doing things to my curd during this morning’s cheese make. Their prompt reply follows after. Regular readers of this blog will note that in a previous communication to the Approvals Team, I asked with whom I was communicating. As yet no reply…..

For those who might be interested to know how much cheese I produce in a year from my 4 lovely Jersey cows, I see from Colin’s calculations (maths not my strong point!) that I sold 889 kilograms of Cwmglyn Cheese in the financial year 2015-2016, not, unfortunately, as good as the previous year, when it was just over a ton, but then as every dairy farmer will tell you, we have our ups and downs……

Hello Approvals –whoever-you-are!

I have carefully read the various papers with the links you gave in your email below, and although I note that you mention it might be rather more expensive for me not to use your existing MPI COP for raw milk products, I reckon there would be considerable expense attendant upon Cwmglyn Farmhouse Cheese actually using it.

I propose to write my significant amendment with relevant details taken from the MPI COP, The UK Specialist Cheesemakers Assured Code of Practice, edition 1, 2015 and any other worthy scientific papers that would be applicable to our very small production artisan cheesemakers here at Cwmglyn Farm.

I note that on page 40 of the NZFSA additional measures for raw milk products, you require a sample to be tested of raw milk used in that particular make; as I have explained previously, my batch sizes are frequent and very small. Courier charges and laboratory testing expenses for the milk and curd testing for 3 or 4 days a week that I make my cheese will be logistically difficult for us as it seems the only recognised dairy laboratories are located in Auckland, hundreds of kilometres away from Eketahuna. How about doing some regional development and getting some recognised labs in Palmerston North –far cheaper for the scientists to live there, than Auckland!

On page 41, given your definitions of ‘process run’ and ‘Lot’, I note that there is absolutely no difference between standard frequency and high frequency on the microbiological monitoring of raw milk products, or, in fact, any difference between soft or hard cheese. I would have thought that if you can demonstrate over 10 –20 make sessions that your curd coagulase positive staphylococcal are well below levels to produce enterotoxins, then having to test every single cheese make curd would be a bit excessive, especially given that we only make traditional hard farmhouse cheese (cheddar type) at Cwmglyn and have NO intention to make any other sort of cheese.

I have asked my AsureQuality auditor, Jude Dooley if she will be able to continue to do my audits if I finally get permission to make raw cheese to sell, but have had no response from her as yet.

I am happy to follow the extra farm steps (and most of them we do already or, in fact, exceed) given in your raw cheese COP and they are detailed in my existing RMP. The only issue here will be on page 22 “transport” of milk to process facility. Our milk only has to travel around 5 metres from the cow’s udder to the receiving churn in the cheeseroom. There is NO WAY I can adhere to the sentence “From the point of collection through to delivery to the manufacturing premises, the temperature of the milk must not exceed 8°C” …. if it arrived at that temperature, the cow concerned would be long dead and rather difficult to remove from the milking parlour!

With all good wishes,

Biddy Fraser-Davies, Sole cheesemaker Cwmglyn Farmhouse Cheese

Thank you for your email, it has been received by the Approvals Operations Team and will be processed accordingly. We will endeavour to reply to your query within 5 working days. It may be that we need to get some technical advice, and if this is the case, replying to you may take longer than expected.

 

ANIMAL PRODUCTS ACT, FOOD ACT & WINE ACT

Please note that as of last year, exporter and dairy exporter registrations combined into an Animal Products Exporter registration. The link below can be used for all new and renewal applications: http://foodsafety.govt.nz/industry/exporting/documents/forms.htm

General information on Exporting can be found here: http://foodsafety.govt.nz/industry/exporting/overview.htm

General information on Risk Management Programmes can be found here: http://foodsafety.govt.nz/industry/general/rmp/

General information on Maintenance Compounds (dairy and non-dairy) can be found here: http://foodsafety.govt.nz/industry/general/maintenance-compounds/

General information on Food Control Plans can be found here: https://www.mpi.govt.nz/food-safety/food-act-2014

General information on Wine can be found here: http://www.foodsafety.govt.nz/industry/sectors/wine/overview.htm

 

ACVM ACT

General information and application forms regarding Class Determinations can be found here: http://foodsafety.govt.nz/industry/acvm/overview/class-determination.htm

If you require further help, a list of consultants can be found here: http://www.foodsafety.govt.nz/registers-lists/consultants/index.htm

 

Kind regards,

 

The Approvals Operations Team | Ministry for Primary Industries

Pastoral House, 25 The Terrace | PO Box 2526 | Wellington | New Zealand

Telephone: 64-4-894 2550 | Facsimile: 64-4-894 2566 | Web: www.mpi.govt.nz

The Approvals Operation Team

 

 

This email message and any attachment(s) is intended solely for the addressee(s)
named above. The information it contains may be classified and may be legally
privileged. Unauthorised use of the message, or the information it contains,
may be unlawful. If you have received this message by mistake please call the
sender immediately on 64 4 8940100 or notify us by return email and erase the
original message and attachments. Thank you.

The Ministry for Primary Industries accepts no responsibility for changes
made to this email or to any attachments after transmission from the office.

The below email is the first one I had from the Approvals Team

From: MPI Approvals

Sent: Tuesday, April 26, 2016 3:05 PM

To: biddy@inspire.net.nz

Subject: RE: Approval for Cwmglyn Farmhouse Cheese to make raw cheese for sale

 

Dear Biddy

 

Thank you for your email regarding a significant amendment to your risk management programme (RMP) to add the production of raw milk cheese.  I understand that MPI has already provided information regarding requirements related to raw milk products in our previous email.

 

All cheesemakers, big and small, have to meet certain rules in order to ensure all associated risks are managed carefully in order to produce safe food. Cwmglyn Farmhouse Cheese is currently operating under the Micro-Cheesemakers Trial Programme (now known as the ‘Farm House Cheese Risk Management Programme Template’). As raw milk is a high-risk food, cheesemakers wanting to produce raw milk cheese have to meet additional measures set out for manufacturing raw milk products. For Cwmglyn Farmhouse Cheese, this means that the scope of your RMP will have to be extended to cover the production of raw milk cheeses to ensure all the right food safety and hygiene requirements are met.

 

This is a significant amendment to the RMP and prior to submitting the RMP amendment for approval, Cwmglyn will need to have the amendment evaluated.

 

As a first step, can you confirm that Cwmglyn Farmhouse Cheese will be using the existing MPI Raw Milk Products Code of Practice? As we’ve mentioned earlier, the Code of Practice is one of the key ways in which you can demonstrate that you are meeting the food safety requirements of the Raw Milk Products Notice. If you follow MPI’s Code of Practice, this will help to ensure that your RMP amendment application will move through the evaluation and registration process smoothly.

 

MPI’s Code of Practice is not the only way you can meet the requirements of the notice, but alternative methods would need to demonstrate that the requirements are being met and this may result in the evaluation and registration process taking longer and it is likely there will be additional costs associated with this.  The link to MPI’s Code of Practice is:  Dairy – Additional Measures for Raw Milk Products – Code of Practice.

 

We look forward to hearing from you.

 

Kind Regards,

 

MPI Approvals

Branch planning, systems & support | Regulation and Assurance

Ministry for Primary Industries | Pastoral House, 25 The Terrace | PO Box 2526 | Wellington | New Zealand

 

 

 

 

Biddy’s cheese blog No. 4

I have been busy reading the various documents put out by the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) on the matter of raw cheese production. Hardly gripping reading, but nevertheless required. Also noting all the extra checking that will have to be done on a Raw Cheese RMP. Our milking parlour inspections will have to be done twice a year instead of annually, and the cows will have to be examined by a vet twice a year and TB tested annually -we are in a TB free area and the mandatory checks are only done every three years. We were last tested (all clear) in December 2015. Weekly laboratory checks of the raw milk will need to be done (at the moment I only have to do this every two months), and probably the most difficult requirement will be to have the curd of every raw cheese (my ‘batch’ size is normally a single cheese) laboratory tested for coagulase positive staphylococcus. My problem here is actually getting the sample to the laboratory in the same state as it leaves my cheese room, given the difficulties of courier pick-ups (and the expense) from Eketahuna & the distance to the only MPI dairy approved laboratories in Auckland – there are apparently none any nearer. Chris Whalley, cheesemaker of Mt Eliza Cheese who has successfully navigated the MPI raw cheese shoals tells me and I quote

“The point about curd testing is to measure Staphs when they are at their highest level, as the enterotoxins they produce will remain once the Staphs have died off. The limit is 1000, compared with 10,000 in UK and 100,000 in EU.”

 

I have also contacted Dr Paul Neaves, a food microbiologist with a particular interest in raw cheese. He is based in the UK and is convenor of the UK Specialist Cheesemakers Association Technical Committee and asked if he would be willing to be my technical adviser. This he has kindly agreed to do and has expressed great interest in the project. I look forward to working with him.

I also wrote the following letter to the approvals team at MPI

From: biddy@inspire.net.nz [mailto:biddy@inspire.net.nz]
Sent: Thursday, 21 April 2016 3:38 p.m.
To: MPI Approvals <MPI.Approvals@mpi.govt.nz>
Cc: Paul Neaves <wilnea@globalnet.co.uk>
Subject: Approval for Cwmglyn Farmhouse Cheese to make raw cheese for sale

Greetings!

Natalie Collins, Manager of Dairy Products, suggested I contact you in reference to my adding a ‘significant amendment’ to my RMP Cwmglyn1 unique ID 242.

As you are probably aware, I am a very small production artisan cheesemaker using the milk from our own 4 Jersey cows to make traditional hard farmhouse cheese. At the moment I am heat treating the milk by thermisation to make it legal to sell, but due to my advancing age (74) I am finding it increasingly difficult to lift heavy pans of milk into larger pans of boiling water and out again into iced water for the heat treatment process, and would like to make raw cheese instead. I am conscious of the new NZ workplace Health & Safety Law, which I am bound to fall foul of, and I certainly can’t afford to pay the fines for breaches of it…

We have always made raw cheese for our own consumption over the last 12 years and during the time I was working with MPI during development of the smallholders Farmhouse Cheese template when every cheese I made during the entire year had to be tested, a number of these were raw cheese and no pathogens were ever detected in any of them and the coagulase positive staphylococcus was always less than 10.

I realise that there might be difficulties posed in this application because of my isolation from the testing laboratories and the small size of my production – a batch is quite often a single cheese, and under your present protocol, there might be difficulties with this. I intend to continue to only make hard aged farmhouse cheese, which is an intrinsically safe product, given it’s acid development and long maturing period and low moisture content. Because of the public interest in this matter, I am writing a blog detailing this process.

Dr Paul Neaves, a UK food microbiologist with a special interest in raw cheese made by artisan cheesemakers, has kindly agreed to provide me with technical assistance. He is the convenor of the UK Specialist Cheesemakers Association Technical Committee and was part of the jointly responsible  committee with Cornwall Council in producing the Specialist cheesemakers’ assured code of practice.

I trust you will be able to offer safe passage to this approval process.

With all good wishes,

Biddy Fraser-Davies,

Cwmglyn Farmhouse Cheese, 36 Morgans Road, RD2 Eketahuna 4994

I received the below email in reply on 26th April 2016:

Dear Biddy

Thank you for your email regarding a significant amendment to your risk management programme (RMP) to add the production of raw milk cheese.  I understand that MPI has already provided information regarding requirements related to raw milk products in our previous email.

All cheesemakers, big and small, have to meet certain rules in order to ensure all associated risks are managed carefully in order to produce safe food. Cwmglyn Farmhouse Cheese is currently operating under the Micro-Cheesemakers Trial Programme (now known as the ‘Farm House Cheese Risk Management Programme Template’). As raw milk is a high-risk food, cheesemakers wanting to produce raw milk cheese have to meet additional measures set out for manufacturing raw milk products. For Cwmglyn Farmhouse Cheese, this means that the scope of your RMP will have to be extended to cover the production of raw milk cheeses to ensure all the right food safety and hygiene requirements are met.

This is a significant amendment to the RMP and prior to submitting the RMP amendment for approval, Cwmglyn will need to have the amendment evaluated.

As a first step, can you confirm that Cwmglyn Farmhouse Cheese will be using the existing MPI Raw Milk Products Code of Practice? As we’ve mentioned earlier, the Code of Practice is one of the key ways in which you can demonstrate that you are meeting the food safety requirements of the Raw Milk Products Notice. If you follow MPI’s Code of Practice, this will help to ensure that your RMP amendment application will move through the evaluation and registration process smoothly.

MPI’s Code of Practice is not the only way you can meet the requirements of the notice, but alternative methods would need to demonstrate that the requirements are being met and this may result in the evaluation and registration process taking longer and it is likely there will be additional costs associated with this.  The link to MPI’s Code of Practice is:  Dairy – Additional Measures for Raw Milk Products – Code of Practice.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Kind Regards,

 MPI Approvals

Branch planning, systems & support | Regulation and Assurance

Ministry for Primary Industries | Pastoral House, 25 The Terrace | PO Box 2526 | Wellington | New Zealand

It was a bit disconcerting to not know exactly who I was corresponding with -surely even faceless bureaucrats have a name- but I replied and said I just wanted a significant amendment to my existing RMP and please who was I addressing?

Meantime I am contacting all the various laboratories to find out how much all this testing will cost………..

Happy Days!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

South Island Saxelby Stilton

This is CurdNerd‘s blog post on South Island Saxelby Stilton shared here with permission of CurdNerd.

I happened across a tale of a cheese once made in Invercargill, New Zealand. It was enjoyed throughout New Zealand, and eventually exported to Australia due to its ‘notable quality and superior flavour’. It is claimed to be the first Stilton manufactured commercially in the Southern Hemisphere. I was intrigued.

John and Betsy Saxelby[1] and their six children arrived in New Zealand from Kings Norton, near Birmingham, early in the 1880s. John a farmer, and Betsy a classified maker of cottage cheeses, set to making Stilton in their cheese factory at Roslyn Bush, Invercargill. Farmers were paid 3&½ d per gallon for their raw shorthorn milk[2], a much better price than butter. As a result, a Stilton operation was suggested for trial in Taranaki.

Milk was left to acidify in it’s own time, the addition of whey starter was used by some if acidification of make moving too slowly.

Stilton cheese is principally made in small dairies of from six to ten cows. The milk is “run” at a low temperature – from 74 to 78 Fahr.: the application of hot water or steam is dispensed with. The curds and whey are first dropped into a strainer, and the whey is drawn off until the curd is formed into a cake. This is often allowed to remain for twenty-four hours, then broken small, and salted during the process of being placed in a mould. It continues in the mould until it is firm enough to stand – about eight or ten days – being turned every day. It is then removed from the mould, and the outside is scraped to fill up the cavities and render it smooth. A piece of cheese-cloth is pinned round the cheese, and it is removed into a temperature of not less than 70 Fahr. No external pressure is used for Stilton cheese. In about five or six months the blue veins begin to appear, and the prime Stilton is ready for market.

taken from ‘The Manufacture of Cheese, Butter and Bacon in New Zealand’ 1883

Whether Saxelby Stilton was made in the same way I’m yet to find out, Betsy Saxelby’s cheesemaking records are said to be knocking about somewhere in an Invercargill archive.

The cheese won many certificates, medals and trophies, often due to being the only cheese entered in it class. It was also proclaimed that Saxelby’s Stilton was ‘better stilton cheese than was being made in England’. I’m not looking for another stilton war, but maybe it’s time for a renaissance of good old colonial fare?[3]

[1] *Saxelby (or Saxelbye) is a small village in the district of Melton in Leicestershire, England – Stilton country.

[2] Pasteurisation was introduced on a wide scale in New Zealand about 1906, and shorthorns were the first dairy cattle to enter the country.

[3] @CurdNerd & his wife @CustardSquare arrived in England from Browns Bay Auckland in 2002. There they were taught to make Childwickbury from esteemed cheesemaker Elizabeth Harris of St Albans. @CurdNerd & @CustardSquare have recently returned to New Zealand to make cheese.

 

Biddy’s Cwmglyn Cheese Blog 3.

This morning when I opened my emails I found the following one from MPI. Lots of sites on it to give my computer constipation.

Hi Biddy

Thank you for your inquiry. As you are aware, MPI has a Raw Milk Products Notice and associated Code of Practice (COP). The Notice can be found at the link below:

http://www.foodsafety.govt.nz/elibrary/industry/Animal_Products-Sets_Requirements.pdf. The Notice sets out the requirements a farm dairy and cheese processor has to meet.  The Notice has been in place since 2009 and the requirements have not changed.

In terms of the COP, this is one of the key ways in which you can demonstrate you meet the requirements of the Notice. An RMP amendment that follows the provisions in the COP can expect to move through evaluation and registration unimpeded. The  COP is not the only way you can meet the notice, but alternative methods would need to demonstrate that the requirements of the notice are met. The link to the COP is:  Dairy – Additional Measures for Raw Milk Products – Code of Practice

If you require help in updating your processes to include the requirements for raw milk products, then you could engage a consultant. A list of consultants is available on the MPI website at the following link:

http://www.foodsafety.govt.nz/registers-lists/rmp-consultants.htm?setup_file=rmp-consultant.setup.cgi&rows_to_return=20000&submit_search=Search.

Should you wish to proceed with manufacturing raw milk cheese for sale, then you will need to have your programme evaluated and apply for a significant amendment to your current RMP, enabling raw milk cheese to be added to the scope of your RMP. MPI’s approvals team are able to assist you through this process. You can contact the approvals team at approvals@mpi.govt.nz.

I trust the above information answers your questions.  We look forward to receiving your application in due course, and working with you into the future.

Regards

 

Natalie

 

Natalie Collins |  Manager Dairy Products
Animal and Animal Products Directorate | Regulation and Assurance Branch
Ministry for Primary Industries – Manatū Ahu Matua | Pastoral House 25 The Terrace | PO Box 2526 | Wellington | New Zealand
Telephone: 64-4-894 2537 | Facsimile: 64-4-894 2643| Mobile: 64-(0)29-894 2537| Web: www.mpi.govt.nz

As it is rather late in the day at this point (old ladies are not supposed to look at computer screens before retiring for the night as this induces insomnia) – on the other hand my friend Anna reckons that actually reading this sort of stuff, actually sends you to sleep…

I shall post my further actions in response to Natalie Collins in due course.

Meantime here is a picture of my cow Holly.

 

 

 

 

Biddy’s Cwmglyn Cheese blog 2

If anybody reads this, I do hope they’ll forgive any computer lapses on my part. I’m not particularly computer literate and I’ve still to find out how to add pictures and paste documents received from MPI and I do rather suffer from verbal diarrhoea at times…

Money to pay for the building of my little milking parlour and cheeseroom came from my retirement nest egg. The local Tararua District Council Environmental Health Officer came and made suggestions on how I should build the latter to make it suitable for producing food in and up to the standard of a commercial kitchen. He issued me with a licence that cost $100.00 a year and inspected the premises annually. We built both buildings against the side of Colin’s large Model Railway shed, dairy-farming neighbours helped with the concreting and gave good advice on the arrangement of the milking parlour.

Colin used to be the data administrator for TranzRail, but in 2003 they moved their head office from Wellington to Auckland and they wanted to ship Colin up there as well – computer nerds who actually know how railways work are fairly rare, but he and I knew we wouldn’t survive in a city environment after Eketahuna, so he took redundancy and we opened his vast model railway layout to the public in January 2004 instead. I set up a cheese counter at the entrance. Cheese & model railways would seem to be an unlikely partnership, but it works for us.

In 2009, TVNZ contacted us as the producers of the long running programme “Country Calendar” wanted to feature our operations. Filming took place over 4 days just before Easter. My son Peter brought out all the grandchildren, both his and his siblings so they could be part of the action as Colin has set up various layouts with buttons to press so visitors can drive trains themselves. The milking was filmed and a cheesemaking sequence and the programme went out in July 2009. The programme finished at 7.30 PM on a Saturday night and by 7.31 I had my first email from the then New Zealand Food Safety Authority pointing out that I didn’t have a Risk Management Programme for either my cheese making or the farm operation. “But I have a licence from our local EHO” I squawked, “Not worth the paper it’s written on” they replied. “Dairy products are Dangerous”. Three inspectors arrived to check me out and, although they said my little cheese room was the cleanest they’d ever seen, as I didn’t have the right paperwork, I’d obviously be a grave danger to the cheese eating public of NZ. They gave me 2 months grace to get the paperwork sorted out. My $100.00 licence fee shot up to $5,500.00!

The Food Safety officials were only doing their job and the regulations were written assuming (as Dairy Products are one of the main exports of NZ) that you were either a large cheese factory producing tons of the stuff or an equally large farm with hundreds of cows producing vast quantities of milk. I reckoned the politicians needed to re-write the regulations to recognise small production Artisan Cheesemakers,  Luckily the NZ parliamentary Primary Products Select Committee were taking submissions at the time and I sent one in with pictures of my lovely cows (I’d collected a few more since Gwendolyn). I asked to speak to the committee and they graciously invited me to speak to them. As a result of my submission, the Food Safety Authority (which has since morphed into MPI) was asked to produce a template for people like me. It was decided that provided you had six or less cows, 10 buffalo or 24 sheep or 24 goats and your total weekly milk volume was less than 1000 litres per week, and you only made hard aged cheese from Heat treated milk, which had to conform to less than 39% moisture, have a Salt-in-moisture content of not less than 4%, and a pH of 5.6 or less and the entire process from adding the commercially produced cheese culture in the milk to draining the whey did not exceed 5 and a half hours you could make cheese to sell. Your processes still had to be audited by a recognised agency, so the process still cost in excess of $5,500.00, so I hadn’t achieved anything much with my parliamentary squawking……

I haven’t yet quite worked out to put pictures on this site, but readers can go to our website http://www.modelrailway.co.nz or http://www.cwmglyn.co.nz and find pictures of the cows and my entire cheesemaking process. What follows in italics is the text of my opening salvo in my raw cheese campaign to MPI

Good afternoon Sheryl Tuck & Tony Rumney,
I am enquiring about the protocol required for raw hard cheese making and I trust it has been amended since the first MPI one written in 2009 to reflect recent relevant research into raw cheese production, carried out in Europe. As you may know, from the presumably quite extensive file on me held by MPI, I first made an application for this around 2009. I gave up when it became apparent that the restrictions you had placed around this made it quite economically unfeasible.
The reason I am again pursuing this, is that as I am 74 next month, I am finding it increasingly difficult to lift large milk pans of up to 20 litres in and out of larger pans of boiling water & thence to ice cold water while thermising the milk prior to cheesemaking. I can see workplace Health & Safety law getting involved. We milk our own cows (only 3 in lactation at the moment, from a total of 5) and meticulously clean the udders and do a RMT daily on every cow. Consequently mastitis is not a problem. If we do have a test result that shows abnormal SCC, we plug that particular cup on the cluster and I hand milk the quarter and discard the milk. Dodgy or so-so milk never enters the cheese vat. The cows are milked individually and the milk is collected in a test bucket located in the cheeseroom. The milk travels no more that 5 metres through stainless steel tube. Over the last 12 years I have made 2,462 batches of cheese & only ever had one ‘blown’ cheese, that that was in the early days when I was using a small 7 litre batch pasteuriser, & some of the water from the exterior jacket contaminated the curd. My batch sizes are usually restricted to one or two cheeses, and you can imagine the cheese would be quite unsalable given the number of tests required at the moment to check whether it is safe to eat.
 
During 2013 when I was working with MPI developing the template for small holder farm cheese, some 157 cheeses were tested (every single cheese made during the year) NONE were ever found to have any pathogens, although some of the composition parameters were not always met. These truckles included a number of Raw Cheeses made for our own consumption. My last AsureQuality Audit (in January by Jude Dooley) was deemed to be, in her words, “a very good audit”.
 
Since 2012-13 there has never been a problem with composition results with the mandatory tests. My thermised cheese is only sold from the farm gate or high end restaurants and cheesemongers, and because of the very small amount of cheese made, the Risk factor is very low. I intend to work with the technical committee of the UK SCA (of which I am a member & have been for a number of years) and I also want to record the entire accreditation process with a blog I am setting up as there seems to be considerable interest in the bureaucracy involved with very small production artisan cheesemakers such as myself. My cheese won a silver award at the 2013 World Cheese Awards held in the UK and a Super Gold Award at the 2014-15 World Cheese Awards – there were some 2700 entries from 33 countries and in the latter event my cheese was one of the top 62. This would seem to indicate that I now know how to make good cheese.
 
One of the difficulties I have is that Eketahuna is fairly isolated as far as courier traffic is concerned & it is impossible for me to meet the testing delivery standards required by the 2009 protocol, with the MPI recognised laboratories all based in Auckland. Given that the only milk used for our cheese is produced on the farm, & is tested daily and I ONLY make hard cheese which is an intrinsically safe ready-to-eat product, I hope that some flexibility will be allowed in the MPI testing regime and protocol developed for Cwmglyn Farmhouse Cheese.
 
With all good wishes,
Biddy Fraser-Davies,
Cwmglyn Farmhouse Cheese
Eketahuna
Unique MPI ID Cwmglyn1  242 

 

This is the end of the background section -I will keep you posted on developments.

 

Biddy’s Cwmglyn Cheese Blog

This is my first cheese blog post which I have created to record my next bureaucratic cheese hurdle with the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI).

First, a bit of background for those who know nothing about the various regulatory cheese battles I’ve been engaged in over the last 7 years. I am a post-menopausal cheesemaker living in the country on a small block of 4.4ha South of Eketahuna in the Tararua District of New Zealand. My husband, Colin, and I moved here some 20 years ago for a bit of peace & quiet. We are surrounded by Dairy farms which is nice as I’ve had a thing about cows since I was about 5 years old and succeeded in taming a number of them by feeding windfall apples over the fence while staying with my grandparents who lived in Hailsham, Sussex in England. Later, at 11, I learnt how to milk them by hand when I stayed on a school friend’s farm in Tenterden, Kent. The farm was several hundred years old and they had no power and all the cows were hand milked. Anybody staying there had to help milk the cows. If you’d never milked a cow before, the only concession made was they gave you a quiet one! I vividly remember the sense of history as I sat on a three-legged stool and watched the milk froth up as it hit the white enamelled milking pail, my head pressed against the cow’s flank as she munched the hay in the manger, just as cows had done in the same place for over 300 years.

Not long after we moved to Cwmglyn Farm in 1995, one of the neighbours gave me a late born Jersey heifer calf – he’d weaned all his other calves & the bobby truck had stopped coming and they thought I’d make a good job of rearing her. We called her Gwendolyn. She was much indulged. We inseminated her when she was 3 years old and I realised I had nine months to build a milking parlour. It occurred to me that she might well swamp me with milk so I built a cheese making room as well, as Fonterra do not pick up from a single cow. Thus I found my dairy career started the year I was 60!

Fortunately there are quite a lot of books written on cheesemaking. The first year was interesting. Some of my cheese was good, some ho-hum. We gave the hohum ones to the chickens and the egg production that first year was phenomenal.