An ugly acronym – HACCP – is just as unpleasant when it is spelt out.
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point is a formal and systematic food safety system that is used to control risks in the food industry and it is blighting our lives.
We fully accept the need for safe procedures when producing and processing our milk, but from being a micro-dairy we are now in the hell of micro-management of our entire operation by the beast of HACCP.
We must get approval for our new mobile dairy before we can resume our milk deliveries, but we are lost in a sea of rules and regulations that never seem to diminish no matter how hard we try.
Environmental health is insisting we are a manufacturing unit, despite having only seven milking cows, and they must apply the same rules to us as they would to any other manufacturing business.
So if we were a mega dairy with a thousand cows locked up in a hot house we would have the funds to bring in the consultants and the finance to do whatever was required. As it is we are a small dairy dedicated to the welfare of cows and we are being strangled by red tape and tick boxes.
The fact that we have to jump through the same hoops as a big, established enterprise is what is killing small businesses across Britain. As they go to the wall it leaves the field open to multi-nationals to rule the roost.
When we first planned our move from the organic farm we worked with in Kent we had no idea that we would be facing this predicament in trying to get approval for our new mobile dairy. That in itself has swallowed up a considerable amount of our finances. We took advice from our colleagues there and from other farmers and were told it would be simple to transfer our operations.
We didn’t bank on HACCP, through which the absolute minutiae of our small dairy would be scrutinised in a bid to find fault and potential risk.
We have even been told that one of our cheese makers, who is award-winning and sells his prized products throughout London, is a risk and we might have to stop using him.
In fact we have found that in the entire Leicester region there is no longer a single small dairy operation running their own milk-pasteurisation facility. They all now send their milk to the big boys. This is not something we would want to do, so if over the next few weeks we remain unable to secure the approvals we need, we might starting looking at raw-milk production as a more problem-free route. We are already having conversations with people who produce raw-milk. Let us see
So apologies for the delay. We are having a very difficult time. We have to win through for the benefit of our cows, but it is tough.