On November 11th we held our Annual Meeting at the State of Maine Cheese Co. facility on Route 1 in Rockport.
Caitlin Hunter (Appleton Creamery) and Heather Donahue (Balfour Farm) were both re-elected to a seat on the Guild Board. Caitlin stepped down from her duties of Secretary of the organization, and Heather was nominated and then voted to replace Caitlin as Secretary.
We reviewed the State of the Guild, including its finances, and we made plans for the upcoming year in many areas: new workshops planned for the Spring (advanced workshops, as well as others focused on beginners and those interested in getting licensed to sell cheese), web site improvements, changes to the delivery of our newsletter, possible legislative action, the formation of an Events Committee, fundraising ideas, and many other things. We ALSO got to taste a lot of cheeses that were brought in for feedback!
It was a long meeting, but VERY productive. Thanks to everyone who attended.
During a salmonella outbreak of 2008 and 2009 nine people died, 166 were hospitalized and more than 700 fell ill. Authorities ultimately traced the contamination of Salmonella Typhimurium back to peanut products manufactured in a Texas plant owned by the Peanut Corporation of America. According to the US CDC an estimated 48 million people each year are affected by food borne illnesses resulting in over 100,000 hospitalization and 3,000 deaths. In this one case, however, there were several factors that caught the general public’s attention:
- Illnesses were caused all over the US without apparent patterns at first;
- People died from exposure in nursing homes and other medical facilities;
- Many different products across different company’s products and brands were found to be contaminated, both commercial and institutional;
- Ultimately the media found that the peanut processing plant had been operating legally in Texas without EVER having been inspected by state or federal food safety organizations.
As a result of the tremendous publicity and outrage of this embarrassing outbreak a White House Food Safety Working Group was formed to investigate this specific failure in the US food safety network. The result was the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) passed by Congress and to be implemented by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
MOFGA will sponsor a “Listening Session” with FDA representatives at the Augusta Armory on
August 19th between 9:30am and 12:30pm
This is the only session scheduled in Maine and one of only three in New England. This is an important opportunity for growers to communicate directly with FDA on the proposed rules.
The FDA has extended the public comment period, so those who cannot make the listening session can submit comments by Nov. 13, 2013.
Dave Colson, MOFGA’s Ag Services Director has put together a summary of the talking points that MOFGA has generated after reviewing the proposed rules that might be helpful.