Fonterra’s recent recall debacle has been the cause for a bit of quiet celebration here in the States. Oh, how the mighty have fallen! It seems that the great Fonterra, with its grass-fed superiority complex, is in fact subject to the same rules as the rest of us. Rabobank is throwing all kinds of shade over that part of the globe, and multiple Fonterra officials have resigned. Imagine the thrill that must have gone through the leaders of those U.S. dairy processors looking to lock down ingredient export contracts with places like China, Sri Lanka, even Bangladesh.
It’s an understandable reaction. We Americans are competitive in nature, and all segments of our dairy industry work hard to produce the best and safest product possible. We’re proud of our product, and should be. But the world is now much too small for this to remain a “Fonterra problem” or even an “Oceania problem.” What’s bad for dairy anywhere is bad for dairy everywhere. No matter who the seller, if a buyer is left with the bad taste of a recall or food safety scare in his mouth, he’ll think again before enthusiastically embracing dairy products.
But the timing does reinforce the message of one group: The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy will release its final voluntary dairy traceability recommendations on Sept. 10, and it couldn’t have a better lead-in. Enhanced traceability is crucial if the U.S. dairy industry is to compete globally and meet the expectations of our buyers both here and abroad. Dairy Farmers of America, Leprino Foods, Darigold, Hilmar Cheese and several other processors and cooperatives representing more than a third of the U.S. milk supply participated in pilot studies of these recommendations. And while there are no farm-level actions necessary, you’ll want to ask your co-op or processor about adopting the enhanced traceability recommendations, since we all know that it’s not a matter of “if” but “when” when it comes to food safety recalls. After all, it’s not just our own country’s image, but also that of the entire global dairy industry, that’s at stake.