Underground Food Collective raises money to make food safety plan public

Underground Food Collective raises money to make food safety plan public
Photo by Emily Julka / Underground Food Collective

By Grace Edquist

They say sharing is caring, and what better way to share valuable food safety information than to open-source it?

At least that’s what the guys and gals at Underground Food Collective are thinking. They launched a thirty-day Kickstarter campaign back in mid-September to crowd source $40,000 to cover the costs of a new food safety plan for making dry-cured salami that they plan to release to the public. They’ve crafted this kind of food safety plan—a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point, or HACCP—before, so why try to raise the 40k now?

It turns out that validating these plans, even creating them in the first place, is complicated, time consuming and expensive.

“People are terrified of the word HACCP,” UFC co-founder Jonny Hunter said in a video on the group’s Kickstarter page.

But a HACCP is mandatory for all meat processors to ensure food safety, and businesses that go through all the work of creating and validating a HACCP traditionally keep it private to recoup the costs, meaning that it’s pretty much been every sausage-maker for himself.

That could change if UFC’s Kickstarter succeeds. Their goal is to license a new HACCP plan under Creative Commons so other meat processors, particularly small-scale businesses and farmers, are able to use that information and learn from it, saving time, money and valuable resources.

“With a lot of Kickstarter projects, it’s very much helping just yourself, but this is very abstract in the sense that you’re helping the general public,” says Hunter. “[The idea to open-source our HACCP] just kind of came from frustration with the process. I knew there were people out there who had the information and just weren’t sharing it.”

With nine days to go, UFC’s Kickstarter has raised more than $26,000 of their $40,000 goal. The project already has four hundred backers spanning the entire country.

“It’s amazing. Underground has more than just a local following, so that’s been the initial thing in getting support,” Hunter says. “It’s been two communities coming together: the open source community, like Creative Commons … and the food safety community. Food Politic, all these kind of players caught onto it. It’s kind of like a nerd project, but it’s stuff that I really care about and stuff that people in the food community really care about.”

UFC’s campaign was also featured on Kickstarter’s homepage two days ago as the project of the day, which helped raise its profile, according to Hunter. He’s hopeful that the campaign will reach its funding goal.

“I think it’s an important story that’s a lot bigger than us.”

Find more information about this project on the Kickstarter page here

This story comes from The Chow Down blog on madisonmagazine.com. Read more like it here