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Dairy Community Collaborates for Greater Good

Farmers, community turn to research to keep foods safe from listeria

ROSEMONT - Jul. 14, 2015

Members of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, which was founded by dairy farmers, are ramping up their fight against a formidable food safety opponent – listeria.

The effort is being led by the Innovation Center’s food safety committee, which created a Listeria Research Consortium in January, to identify science-based solutions that further protect consumers.

“Consumers should be confident that the products they eat are safe,” said Tom Hedge, Senior Vice President, Enterprise Quality and Food Safety at Schreiber Foods and chairman of the Innovation Center food safety committee. “Our recently launched research initiative is targeted at identifying additional layers of protection.”

The consortium is funded by the Innovation Center’s member companies. In addition to Schreiber, members include food safety experts from Darigold Inc., Glanbia Foods, Great Lakes Cheese, Hilmar Cheese Company, Land O’Lakes Inc., Leprino Foods, Saputo Inc., Sargento Foods Inc., and the National Dairy Council. Members work with a pre-competitive and collaborative spirit to address the various challenges presented by listeria.

Together, the committee decided that science-based technologies and tools were needed to complement its focus on best practice sharing and pathogen control education. A request for research proposals went out to researchers across the country in June.

All dairy companies, regardless of size, can benefit by having secondary barriers and additional tools to control listeria growth, Hedge said. He is optimistic the research can identify solutions that can make dairy even safer. Collaboration is the key to getting there.

“It’s unusual for an industry group to organize itself and put resources behind sharing and educating in the interest of performing better year after year,” Hedge said. “The collaboration among competing companies that stand shoulder to shoulder can make a real difference for the greater good.”

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Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy® is a forum for the dairy industry to work together pre-competitively to address barriers and foster innovation. The Innovation Center aligns the collective resources of the industry to offer consumers nutritious dairy products and ingredients, and promote the health of people, communities, and the planet. The Board of Directors for the Innovation Center includes 32 leaders representing key U.S. farmer organizations, dairy cooperatives, processors, and brands. Visit www.usdairy.com for more information.

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