The morning began with an early morning meeting with the other Cheese Guilds attending the conference. The idea was to talk about ways in which the Guilds could collaborate, and any ways the Guilds could better interface with ACS. Unfortunately it was run as an afterthought, and despite raising many valid areas that the Guilds would like to address (workshop sharing, Guild formation, Guild legal structures) the meeting was stopped five minutes before it was scheduled to end with absolutely no promise of follow-up besides circulating a typed list of attendees and their emails. I later complained to the President of the ACS board about this “lame” attempt to help the Guilds by getting us together. He said he would look into it sometime after August.
We then headed to the main hall where we had been eating our meals for a general session about how the shellfish industry manages the traceability and HACCP requirements they have been working under for about ten years now. These are all areas that will soon be applied to the cheese industry after the FSMA is fully implemented over the next few years. The first person to speak was Maryanne Guichard from the Washington State Dept. of Health who explained how the system worked, and that all states participating in the traceability program got together on a regular basis (annual or biannual) to evaluate what was working and what was not working and propose changes to the system. Interestingly she explained that the FDA was a member of that working group and had only a single vote on proposed changes or new guidelines. They could, if the group approved something, still veto it (as the ultimate regulator). But they would have at least participated in the development and discussions of the issue as a partner, instead of being presented something from out of left field.