Food Safety

Peter got his start in Food Safety while pursuing his M.S. in Dairy Science at the University of Vermont. The demonstrable connection between safe production practices and high quality cheese and dairy foods guides Peter's work as a consultant and a cheesemaker.

Since 1999 Peter has worked on projects focused on technical assistance and food safety program research, development and training for cheesemakers with funding from USDA, SARE, the University of Vermont, and the Vermont Cheese Council.  In 2012, Peter completed the HACCP-BASED PROGRAM HANDBOOK a handbook based on the FDA/National Committee of Interstate Milk Shippers Dairy Products HACCP program.

Between 1999 and 2009, Peter worked on four USDA grant-funded projects focused on HACCP and Food Safety for cheesemakers, one of which included developing Risk Reduction Practices with 20 New England cheesemakers. Peter wrote and/or worked on HACCP programs for VT Butter & Cheese Creamery, Vermont Shepherd, Landaff Creamery, Lovera's Cheese, and Consider Bardwell Farm.

Peter keeps up with state and federal regulatory requirements including the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). He completed a Silliker HACCP training program and received certification as an NCIMS/FDA Voluntary HACCP Program Trainer from Cornell University Extension.

HACCP-BASED PROGRAM HANDBOOK: A Guide for Farmstead and Small-Scale Artisan Cheesemakers Who Make Cheese by Hand in Small Batches from Raw and Pasteurized Milk
Produced by Peter Dixon, with support from the VCC, this handbook provides a framework for cheesemakers to construct food safety programs using the principles of the FDA/National Committee of Interstate Milk Shippers Dairy Products HACCP program. This step-by-step guide can be used to develop a HACCP-based program and includes detailed information on

  • Good Manufacturing Practices
  • Standard Operating Procedures
  • Prerequisite Programs and
  • HACCP plans

Available for purchase here.

Farmstead Cheese Safety Risk Reduction Project
This SARE-funded pilot project developed risk reduction practices for 20 Northeastern cheesemakers and provided training on taking samples of milk, cheese, and the creamery environment for laboratory testing.  Peter provided the training and technical assistance.  In the final phase of the project recommendations for a cheesemaker food safety certification program were made. Click through to read the project introduction and final report.


Training Center for On-Farm Milk Processing
Funded by USDA SARE, Peter started the training center with the goal of providing instruction and hands-on training at a licensed creamery where the students could make cheese and other dairy products.  The center operated one year at Westminster Dairy in Westminster West, VT and one year at Woodcock Farm in Weston, VT.  During this time Peter taught workshops on the making a wide variety of cheeses and dairy products and provided instruction in business planning, marketing, creamery design, and equipment selection to 60 cheesemakers and aspiring cheesemakers. The final report for this project can be read here, and an article on the center's first year was published in the Northeast SARE newsletter and can be read here.

The New England Farmstead Cheese Making HACCP Project
Peter acted as an advisor for this project that involved developing HACCP Plans for 10 cheesemakers, and resulted in the development of Food Safety Plans for the Artisanal Cheesemaker……..Step by Step, a workbook published in 2005.  The project was operated by the U-Conn Cooperative Extension and UVM, and was funded by the Extension Service, USDA Integrated Food Safety Programs under special project number: 2001-51110-11366.

European Systems for the Safe Production of Raw Milk Cheese
This research project was funded by the Vermont Cheese Council to investigate the approaches to risk reduction practices and HACCP-style food safety programs in use by EU countries to regulate national and international cheese commerce.  Read report here. Peter also prepared a report on the regulation of raw milk and cheese in Germany which can be found here.

HACCP Programming and Technical Assistance for Vermont Shepherd and Farmstead Goat Cheese Production
Funded by USDA Northeast SARE and the UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture, this project started in spring 1999 and ended in fall 2000 and included two full years of dairying and cheesemaking by the Vermont Shepherd Guild.  Peter worked with six farmstead cheesemakers who made cheese for Vermont Shepherd to develop and implement HACCP programs.  Two years of milk and aged cheese testing were done.  As part of this project, Peter provided technical support to six sheepsmilk and two farmstead goatmilk cheesemakers in Vermont. Read report here.