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  produce good results.
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Confronting Dairy Food Safety Head On

Confronting Dairy Food Safety Head On

by Neville McNaughton (“Dr. Cheese”)



 Dairy Food Safety begins on the farm.  The term “clean milk” from farms is not well defined, and I have found that most milk destined for pasteurization is not exactly pristine.  Because that milk is destined to be pasteurized the level of care in its production clearly reflects that fact.


Let us consider the animals that produce milk and the pathogens they can secrete:

  • Listeria monocytogen
  • E. coli
  • Staph aureus
  • Streptococci

Milk Can be contaminated by:

  • Campylobacte
  • E. coli
  • others

For milk that is being sent for pasteurization, is this a concern?  At the very least, any seller of Raw Milk should be checking for pathogens.  If not, we could argue that he or she is using the consumer as a laboratory.


Cheesemakers need to know what pathogens are a threat, so let us take a quick look at the facility that produces milk for pasteurization.  (Milking parlors are generally under-engineered, in my opinion):


  1. Varying pipe sizes in a sequential flow of pipe make it difficult to wash sufficiently. The industry solution to this is to introduce a slug of air to accelerate the rate of wash detergent.  Frequently the air is very cold and the detergent solution is cooled too quickly.
  2. Detergent, hot wash cycles are frequently very short because the water temperature is dropping so quickly. If it is not removed from the pipeline it will begin to deposit soil back onto the pipeline.
  3. Most Parlor wash systems start very hot and end prior to the critical temperature at which they are no longer washing.
  4. Dairy Parlor detergents tend to be very high in phosphates and chlorine, which is a direct reflection on the shortcomings of the washing systems–lack of flow/agitation, lack of time, low temperature.
  5. Many gasketed joints that are not checked regularly and are frequently loose.
  6. Many are changed so infrequently that the gaskets have disintegrated.
  7. Gasketed joints are difficult to sanitize due to residues getting back into the gaskets.
  8. Poorly installed pipework, the use of expanded or rolled fittings, is banned in some states and should be banned in all.  It could be argued that a well installed rolled fitting is very good; however the craftsmanship observed by experienced inspectors has led to their elimination in some states.
  9. The use of welded rolled fittings is common and the deficencies are so egregious it is hard to believe they are actually installed in this condition.  Welding on the gasket face of a rolled fitting leaves a lumpy gasket surface, so bad they cannot be washed or sanitized.  The exclusive use of butt welded nipples will go a long way to improving the chances making good milk.
  10. Bulk tank outlet valves are not able to be washed with CIP.  This includes, Butterfly, Minidisc, Plug valves.  A non-CIPable valve must be disassembled and washed thoroughly, sanitized and reassembled prior to the commencement of the wash cycle.
Cheese making is the conversion of milk to food.  It requires understanding…


Raw Milk?

Refer to our newsletter dated January 2014

Wood or Plastic for Aging Shelves

Aging Room Shelves: 
Wood vs. Plastic
by Neville McNaughton
Dr. Cheese
Is there virtue in wood and will the virtues of plastic replace the age old standard?
Wood planks for aging have been used forever, and the single greatest reason we as an industry are contemplating a move away from wood as a contact surface is the inability to maintain them in a sanitary way. Philosophy aside, the harborage of favorable microbes is wood’s Achilles heel, as the discovery of a pathogen on a surface that is not readily cleanable is problematic. State and Federal health officials know no reason other than to avoid risk.
The absorption property of wood, often looked upon as a functional benefit, is going to be the same reason it may eventually be banned as a suitable material for aging cheese.  Wood worked well in situations where cheese was stored in moist environments.  Frequently the wood used was not smooth, but textured as in rough sawn lumber.  This rough surface slightly elevated the cheese and allowed a small amount of air beneath the cheese, creating a wicking effect that pulled away moisture from beneath the cheese. When relative humidities were lower, though, some of the harder aged cheeses were aged on sealed wood boards with smooth surfaces because no wicking was possible.
SDI Brand
Dimpled Plastic Shelving

Because of the innate problems with aging on wood, custom designed food grade plastic is now available and working better than expected.  It is a simple, dimpled HDPE product that is producing cheese without any issues.  From very soft cheese to hard cheese, the results are gratifying. Much like textured wood, the small dimples elevate the cheese above the flat surface and allow air to suface flora on the bottom.  That same air also controls the humidity to some extent under the cheese.

And, the cleaning of the plastic material is relatively simple:  At the end of each aging cycle, do a scrub rinse of major soil, rinse and place in the COP tank, heat the item through, make sure all remaining soil is gone, then rinse and sanitize.
Plastic is here to stay until the lights go out and we revert to age old standard of wood, at which time we can feed the no longer employed Bureaucrats.  For a more in-depth discussion on Wood vs. Plastic follow the link to:  Wood vs. Plastic


Cheesemakers At the End of Summer: How to Maximize Your Autumn Months

If a Cheesemaker ever gets a chance to reflect on the entire year, it probably occurs during the quietest time of activity, maybe February and March, that dormancy before the spring when the new energy launches another season.So what of the autumn?  With the rush up to the holiday/entertainment season hitting maximum intensity and replacing the ebb of summer business, Autumn requires serious thought about what will happen to milk that is produced during this season.   Milk that is too late to be made into fresh product for Christmas, or that is wanted as cheese for the first quarter of the Calendar year.  Autumn (leading into Winter) is often the period when Cheesemakers make the most wonderful cheese,so don’t short change it.  This is the cheese that is almost certainly going to become cheese aged for 6 months or more, the mature cheese for the summer farmers markets, OR those really grand cheeses that are one year old for the most discerning Christmas table.1.  Make sure that all the equipment is working well, and minds are on the job.


2.  This is often the time when the “Cheesemaker” is being pulled away to promote, (entertain actually) those folk who are being well primed to spend money during the festive season.  Promote your brand!


3.  Consider your staff and daily operations:  Who will make those ever important decisions, the day to day tweak, a recalled nuance from one or two years before?  Who has the institutional memory that will ensure your now established and esteemed brand will be represented by the consistent quality it has become renown for? goes on when nothing is happening?


4.  Make plans for the Spring:  building plans, plans for replacing or improving equipment, new products, new marketing materials, etc.


5.  Slow down, take pride in your craft and perfect it.



With the peak summer season behind us (and and next year’s seemingly so far ahead) it is easy not to give full credence to every act we perform on the milk. Taking time to consider this is wise.


Making autumn cheese is a special time  that requires the best cheesemaker–routine, disciplined, thoughtful and knowledgeable.  This is not the time time to put an intern in charge.  (Nothing against interns.  They are a highly dutiful group of people who do their internships with enthusiasm and passion, but they are in the learning stage of their career).  Most owners, though, are much more invested in every aspect of their business.  They understand milk paid for, wages and or labor spent, balanced against the need to be in two places at one time.   They understand the value of the cheese being made at this time and the importance of planning for the future.  Interns are perfectly fit for those summer fresh cheese makes that are out in a few days, get immediate feedback from the market, then move on to the next learning experience.


Autumn cheese making is not the right job for the part-timer.  This is the job and role of seasoned Cheesemakers who can be relied on.  



It’s not just the cheese; it’s the whole process.  From cow to the next day courier, cheese making takes a team.  Final tip:  Putting the best Cheesemaker you have on the job won’t save you if the milking machine isn’t clean.  The best cheesemaker should be in charge all year long.  That’s right, nobody will check that pipe line and receiver jar like the seasoned Cheesemaker, and if it isn’t clean now,  it’s a double down on the boss to make sure that everything is working like it should.

Business complexity sometimes escapes us.  Even the very small business often has a complex mix of products, changing throughout the year to meet opportunity.  It’s important to use every season to seize that opportunity and plan for the next.

Neville McNaughton

Dairy Technologist and President





Cheezsorce is committed to providing products and services that will give your operation a competitive edge in the m

How Cultured Are You?

CheezeSorce is proud to be one of North America’s major distributors of dairy cultures, and we enjoy specializing in services for small producers.  It is our goal to provide our clients with the highest quality cultures available and with a solid knowledge of how to work with each culture’s personality.  To that end, we offer a wide variety of cultures, mainly from world-reknowned culture supplier, Chr. Hansen.

For more than 130 years Chr. Hansen has worked to help dairies throughout the world produce high quality fermented milk and cheese products, and today Chr. Hansen has grown into the leading supplier of dairy cultures. One of the major reasons behind the success of Chr. Hansen’s solution is the partnership they establish with their customers, and we carry on that tradtion by establishing very personal relationships with our producers. 

As an overview, our cultures are available both frozen and freeze-dried, and our line includes Cheddar, Continental, Cottage Cheese, Emmenthal, Feta, Grana, Kosher, Pasta Filata, Soft Cheese, SWING CULTURES*, and yogurt (including our increasingly popular drinkable yogurt!).

*(Swing Cultures are molds, yeasts and ripening bacteria of natural origin selected for their aromatic characteristics and ability to modify taste, texture and appearance in a variety of cheese types.  Consider them a tool box of ripening cultures for enhancing cheese flavor, achieving premium cheese surface and appearance, reaching desired cheese texture, and reducing cost in use).

We sell the full North American line of Chr.Hansen cultures in our culture store, and offer volume discounts.