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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An evaluation of the Canadian Quality Milk Program : subtitle an on-farm food safety program for dairy producers Unger, Nicole

Abstract

Dairy Farmers of Canada developed the Canadian Quality Milk (CQM) program, an on-farm HACCP-based food safety program. This thesis evaluates the material, costs and time commitments, effects on milk and meat safety, and dairy producers' opinions of the program. Fifteen volunteer dairy producers were trained, and implemented the program. Questionnaires, interviews and participant observation were used to gather producers' opinions of the program. Most of the data collected was qualitative, therefore, the results do not reflect numbers of people with the same opinion but rather the range of opinions that the participants expressed. One farm discontinued the trial, but 14 farms were audited (evaluated on adherence to the program's requirements). Five passed, 5 conditionally passed (had minor food safety problems, e.g. milkhouse cleanliness) and 4 failed (had critical food safety problems, e.g. non-potable water). On average, producers spent 11 hours writing initial records and 10 minutes maintaining daily records. The average initial program cost was $1,068 and annual costs were estimated at $1,404. Some producers felt that the program was positive, but others thought it was unnecessary. Most wanted the program simplified and had difficulty understanding the new concepts of HACCP. Everyone wanted compensation for implementing the program, and some were concerned that this program and other programs being developed (e.g. Nutrient Management) would become too expensive to maintain. Dairy Farmers of Canada developed the Canadian Quality Milk (CQM) program, an on-farm HACCP-based food safety program. This thesis evaluates the material, costs and time commitments, effects on milk and meat safety, and dairy producers' opinions of the program. Fifteen volunteer dairy producers were trained, and implemented the program. Questionnaires, interviews and participant observation were used to gather producers' opinions of the program. Most of the data collected was qualitative, therefore, the results do not reflect numbers of people with the same opinion but rather the range of opinions that the participants expressed. One farm discontinued the trial, but 14 farms were audited (evaluated on adherence to the program's requirements). Five passed, 5 conditionally passed (had minor food safety problems, e.g. milkhouse cleanliness) and 4 failed (had critical food safety problems, e.g. non-potable water). On average, producers spent 11 hours writing initial records and 10 minutes maintaining daily records. The average initial program cost was $1,068 and annual costs were estimated at $1,404. Some producers felt that the program was positive, but others thought it was unnecessary. Most wanted the program simplified and had difficulty understanding the new concepts of HACCP. Everyone wanted compensation for implementing the program, and some were concerned that this program and other programs being developed (e.g. Nutrient Management) would become too expensive to maintain. Some common themes that emerged from the trial were producers' resistance to change their practices and ways of thinking, antibiotic administration, extralabel veterinary prescriptions and lack of concern for meat safety. Furthermore, it was felt that the program needs to add pesticide storage procedures, annual equipment checks, and veterinary treatment protocols. On-farm auditors need extensive training and an audit protocol. In conclusion, the CQM program needs to work with all stakeholders in the industry (e.g. veterinarians and equipment dealers), be implemented uniformly across Canada and develop a communication plan from producers to consumers. Furthermore, the CQM program has potential to be an effective tool to reduce food safety risks; however, its implementation needs more work to reduce inconsistencies, gain producer acceptance and ensure credibility from the farm to the consumer.

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