We Are Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000 Recertified!

In 2013, Didion achieved our FSSC 22000 – however to maintain this certification we’ve had yearly surveillance audits. Since this is Didion’s 4th year with the program, we were required to go through a complete recertification audit.

The full audit takes 2.5 days to complete (a surveillance audit take only 1.5 days) and due to our company’s role in food safety, all departments are affected by the audit. FSSC 22000 is more than a certification, it is a way of doing business – Didion’s entire process, from purchasing, milling, shipping, and even training, is done according to FSSC 22000 guidelines.

We are proud of our participation in FSSC 22000! Not only does our certification prepare us for the FDA’s Food Safety Moderation Act revision and help meet our customer’s requirements, but it also makes us a better company and ensures safe manufacturing of our products.

The recertification audit this year was a success! There was only one minor nonconformity found and actions have already been taken to correct it. We are very proud of our results and continuous improvement to ensure the best possible product for our customers. The entire Didion team looks forward to celebrating our success!

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You can read more about FSSC 22000 here.

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Feeding & Fueling the World Together

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Zoey Brooks, Wisconsin’s 67th Alice in Dairyland, visited Didion Milling and Ethanol on Tuesday morning to learn about how locally-grown corn is processed into food, feed and fuel products that are used in our local communities, across the country and around the world.

As Wisconsin’s agriculture ambassador, Alice in Dairyland strives to educate audiences across Wisconsin about the $59 billion economic impact and importance of our state’s diverse agriculture industry in our daily lives. Corn, as Wisconsin’s second largest agricultural commodity by cash receipts, is an important part of Alice in Dairyland’s story.

Zoey took a stroll down fermentation alley in the ethanol plant, inspected samples in Didion’s labs and explored various granulations of milled corn. While touring our facilities, she learned how corn is fractionated in our dry corn mill, then sorted for its best use in food and fuel production. For more information about how we maximize the kernel of corn in our two facilities, check out the Corn Milling 101 series on our blog.

During her year as Alice in Dairyland, Zoey drives a flex-fuel vehicle wrapped in graphics promoting ethanol production. Here are some of facts she shares about ethanol as she fuels up with E85 during her travels around the state:

  1. Provides a lot of jobs. A study done by ABF Economics found that the 13.3 billion gallons of ethanol produced in 2013 created 86,503 jobs and supported an additional 300,277 indirect and induced jobs.
  2. Lower cost of fuel for everyone. A report from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Iowa State University found that ethanol supplying about 10 percent of our fuel has reduced the price at the pump by more than $1.00 per gallon.
  3. More than fuel. One bushel of corn (56 lbs.) can produce 2.8 gallons of ethanol and 17-18 pounds of dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS). These are an important co-product of ethanol production and a common livestock feed.
  4. Improves the air quality of motor emissions. A study from the University of Nebraska found that ethanol reduces emissions by almost 60 percent.
  5. Decreases U.S. dependence on imported petroleum. Since 2008 net petroleum imports have fallen by one third and are continuing to decrease to the lowest level in 20 years.

Click here to learn more about Alice in Dairyland.

By: Adam Lemmenes, Plant Manager at Didion Ethanol

A Pot O’HarvestGold

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Irish legends about Leprechauns and their pots of gold remind us of our very own pot of gold – that is, HarvestGold. Have you ever wondered where the brand name “HarvestGold” comes from? Mama Didion was Irish, but our Celtic heritage wasn’t the main inspiration for this name.

Harvest alludes to the personal relationships we have with local farmers. Our knowledgeable grain procurement team watches the markets and works closely with local farmers to make the best corn marketing decisions. We purchase grain directly from farmers as much as we can because we know that leads to greater profitability for farmers and higher quality products for our customers.

Gold refers to both the rich golden color of our corn products and the gold quality standards we uphold. Our quality assurance team has rigorous and comprehensive product testing procedures. Learn more in Corn Milling 101 Part 4: Product Quality Tests.

Unlike the hidden pots of gold in Irish legends, Didion HarvestGold corn products can be found all over, in both food and industrial products. Didion’s corn ingredients can be found in your favorite cereals, snacks, baked goods, cornbread and muffin mixes, pizza, breadings and batters. Didion corn grits are also used in the brewing industry as an ingredient in many local and national beer brands.

There are many industrial uses for corn as well. Corn is used in foundry molds for sinks and bathtubs and helps hold the shape of charcoal briquettes and plywood. It is also used as a carrier in the production of cat litter and rodent control products.

Whether you enjoy a Pot O’HarvestGold or a green beer, we wish you the luck of the Irish as you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this weekend.

Slainte!

Corn Milling 101 Part 4: Product Quality Tests

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The quality of our corn products is very important to us. That’s why we perform extensive quality assurance, laboratory and gluten-free compliance testing during numerous stages of our corn processing.

For Quality Assurance (QA) testing, samples are first taken from the mill and tested every two hours to control output from the mill. Next, line samples are taken to check attributes as the final “package” is being filled – they can be bags, tote sacks, tank trucks or bulk rail cars. Finally, a composite sample of the finished lot is taken.

The QA testing program encompasses a variety of product attributes depending upon the application of the item. These laboratory tests include:

  • Granulation
  • Protein & fat
  • Crude fiber
  • Total dietary fiber
  • Ash
  • Titration for calcium
  • Moisture
  • Color – B value (yellow) & L value (brightness)
  • Viscosity
  • Microbiological testing
  • Mycotoxins

In addition to quality assurance and laboratory testing, gluten-free compliance testing is done on a regular basis. Although corn is naturally gluten-free, weekly tests are performed on Didion products to confirm that wheat is not present in whole corn from the harvest/storage/transport chain. This testing protocol confirms our gluten-free status and certification by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO).

By: John Deininger, Quality Assurance Manager at Didion Milling

Gluten-Free, Naturally!

Corn is naturally gluten-free right off the stalk. That makes it the perfect ingredient in a wide variety of gluten-free applications. Corn can help increase protein levels and replace wheat protein functionality. Various grains and starches can be used to get gluten-free products closer to the desired functionality and taste profile of gluten-containing foods, but few are as cost effective and label friendly as corn.

Corn’s naturally gluten-free properties don’t guarantee that all corn products on the market are gluten free. Some are processed in a facility that handles gluten materials. Grains can become mixed to some degree in the distribution channel. It’s difficult for multi-grain manufacturers to make sure their products are wheat free. Corn, because of its distribution channel, has minimal risk of cross contamination; especially when manufactured in a gluten-free facility. Our quality assurance team tests products to make sure they’re within gluten-free guidelines as well as customer specifications.

Corn flours are a great candidate for gluten-free recipes, bringing protein and starch to the recipe. That makes it a great ingredient for pasta applications. Viscosity-controlled corn flour provides a more uniform product in kneading machines and automated dough processing equipment. Our pregels – corn flour that’s been heat and moisture treated to give it specific properties – have great binding properties and provides stabilizing functionality. It all depends on the formula you’re putting together.

Corn bran brings fiber to the label and aids in moisture retention with its high water-binding capacity. It binds water more efficiently compared to carbohydrates. It also keeps starch from leaching out during boiling.

What about corn gluten? It contains different proteins than wheat gluten. Wheat, like other cereal grains, contains more than 100 different proteins.  Two specific wheat proteins, gliaden and glutenin, have been shown to cause sensitivity. These two proteins are not found in corn. While there is a corn gluten protein, it has not been associated with the health issues caused by wheat gluten.

By: John Deininger, Quality Assurance Manager at Didion Milling

We’ve Achieved a Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000!

Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000 is a comprehensive food safety management system. It incorporates the ideals of continuous improvement and prevention to develop a proactive and effective food safety plan. FSSC 22000 is one of four Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) recognized food safety schemes and is the only ISO-based system. FSSC 22000 was selected of the four acceptable GFSI schemes due to Didion’s short-term plans to achieve certification in other ISO-based systems.

FSSC 22000 encompasses two standards, ISO 22000:2005 (Management system) and ISO/TS 22002-1:2009 (Prerequisite programs), but in itself really is a three-part system.
• Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) Plan
• Prerequisite Programs (PRPs)
• Management System

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) Plan
Risk analysis of ingredient and production processes

HACCP is a systematic, preventative approach to food safety that uses the idea of hazard analysis to identify physical, chemical and biological hazards/risks associated with a food manufacturing process. Hazards identified in the HACCP plan are assessed for severity and likelihood to determine the risk associated. Risk is then mitigated through the incorporation of control programs (PRPs), which when monitored and validated for effectiveness, ensure product safety to the greatest possible efficacy.

Prerequisite Programs (PRPs)
Programs in place as foundation of the HACCP plan to mitigate risks

Prerequisite programs (PRPs) are a series of in-depth programs that provide the foundation for the food safety program and are standard practices necessary to ensure safe products. Prerequisite programs provide the groundwork for the entire system and are also the real driving force behind the food safety program based upon the HACCP plan.

Management System
System focused on the management and assurance of food safety

The management system ensures the necessary processes, resources, approach and culture are in place to support the food safety system.

By: John Deininger, Quality Assurance Manager at Didion Milling