AOP quality control is carried out in line with the production conditions set out in the specifications and in accordance with the AOP quality control plan. The division also checks the cheese’s end quality.
Producer Quality Control
AOP quality control operates on three levels :
- Auto-control is carried out by the professionals with varying frequency depending on the relative importance of the item being controlled
- Internal controls are carried out under the supervision of the AOP Safeguarding and Governance Association, the SIFAm
- An independent certifying body, the CERTIPAQ, carries out external controls. This body verifies that operatives are meeting with the production conditions.
The following table summarises the links between the 3 levels of AOP control.
The independent body directly visits operatives selected by random ballot at predetermined intervals. It also inspects the AOP Safeguarding and Governance Association to verify that internal checks follow established procedures: frequency of inspections, auditor accreditation, and follow-up of remedial actions…
A pre-defined set of sanctions exists for each item inspected, going from issuance of a warning to exclusion from the Appellation.
SIFAm’s objective is to support operatives in a return to meeting specifications. However, in the event of a serious problem or where remedial actions (or a compliance plan) are not carried out, the operative may have his accreditation removed. That is, s/he will no longer be able to produce milk or manufacture Fourme d’Ambert AOP.
Product quality control involves presenting La Fourme d’Ambert (at least bi-monthly) to an expert panel composed of 17 members from 3 colleges, who carry out an organoleptic examination.
Regulations for the sampling and tasting are clearly delineated in order to guarantee impartiality of results. In effect, the tastings may lead to more or less serious sanctions, including exclusion from the AOP.
In particular, these procedures include :
- Sampling of cheeses for tasting by a sampling agent,
- Arranging the tasting (while guaranteeing the anonymity and impartiality of results),
- Characteristics of La Fourme d’Ambert: shape, appearance, texture, taste,
- Sanctions in case of non-compliance.
- This work forms the basis of an AOP’s success; all the division operatives very quickly understood that it is in everyone’s interests to work toward improving the quality of Fourme d’Ambert.