Introducing ‘Open Source Food Safety’
We are excited to launch ‘Open Source Food Safety.’ The idea is simple: food safety benefits us all and the more we share information about it, the better our food system will be.
Information was locked away
We spent the past four years struggling to get other producers to help us get a legitimate HACCP (or Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points) plan off the ground. It wasn't because they didn't want to help—it was because they developed their food safety plans by hiring an expensive consultant who made them sign a non-disclosure agreement.
In other words, the science and process behind producing safe products was being locked away by a few folks in order to profit.
Turning to open funding and sharing mechanisms
So we turned to a broader community of people committed to finding solutions to problems in the food system. In 2013 we launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund an open source HACCP plan for salami and cured meats.
By using a crowdfunded process we were able to publish multiple plans that producers could use for free to produce dry cured meats. It was pretty exciting — we directly helped over 20 different plants and producers with food safety plans, and countless others have used our documents to produce safe food.
Making the idea BIGGER
We realized that while the process we funded was fairly niche, the idea could be much bigger. If producers could start sharing information around food safety, we would be in a place to level the food safety playing field. Small producers would no longer be burdened with paying for science that was locked up; instead, there could be an open sharing of information that would benefit our food system and empower small producers to create more products.
We teamed up with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Humanities to create a web platform for hosting HACCP plans licensed by Creative Commons. We hope that users take them, change them, and develop better information for producers as well as uploading their own plans to the site.
Harnessing the power of open information
We will continue to upload more of our plans for producers to use, but our hope with this project is to harness the power of open information. Whether you are a large company that has an interest in our food supply being safe or a graduate student who is studying food science, your work can help us share better information around food safety. We think that we can bring diverse communities together to help build a safer food system.
And that’s just the beginning. We plan to push forward this next year and do lots of information sharing on this project, which will include videos, webinars, and research.
We are super excited about this project and excited to have more people involved with making a safer and more easily accessible food system for all.