Since its work began in 2010, FACEnetwork has been trying to demonstrate the legitimacy of the practices applied in farmhouse and artisan dairies from a food safety perspective.
Indeed, the experience of the sector was that, in some countries, small scale cheese and dairy producers sometimes struggled to satisfy their national administrations that their products actually met the requirements of European regulations despite the flexibility allowed in the European « Hygiene Package ». This flexibility covers the application of the regulations, according to the size of the establishments and the « traditional » character of the products made.
FACEnetwork’s work on this topic led to the support of several European Members of Parliament and an agreement by the European Commission to mandate and finance the preparation of a Guide to Good Hygiene Practices (GGHP) for farmhouse and artisan cheese and dairy producers.
The work on the GGHP commenced in 2015. It mobilized the resources of FACEnetwork during a 2 year period. A team of 6 technicians wrote it, with the support of 4 dairy producers. In addition, 11 other technicians and dairy producers were tasked with proofreading the work. The completed guide is the result of the direct collaboration of 21 experts from the 15 countries of FACEnetwork. In addition, approximately 400 stakeholders based across Europe have been informed of our work on the guide as it progressed.
In December 2016, the guide was endorsed by the European Commission and the 28 Member States of the European Union. It is now an official reference document for farmhouse and artisan cheese and dairy producers as well as the competent authorities in each Member State.
The GGHP was published on 17th January 2017 on the website of the European Commission (see the address of the link above). At present, only the English version is available, as the translations in the other 23 official languages of the European Union are in progress. All of the translations will be available from autumn 2017.