Business News

Kleinpeter Dairy battles back

by Leslie Turk

Family owned Baton Rouge milk and ice-cream producer aims to put PR nightmare behind it.

In a letter posted Thursday on the company's Facebook page, company CEO Jeff Kleinpeter explains the steps being taken to remedy taste and shelf life problems that have plagued the company for months. The family-owned dairy's problems were detailed in a Baton Rouge Business Report cover story in May:

While the March and April inspections from DHH did not identify the causes of the shelf-life problems at Kleinpeter, reports from the agency's regular monthly inspections of the plant show there have been chronic problems with sanitation, at least until very recently. According to inspection reports from January 2013 through April 2014, Kleinpeter had multiple sanitation violations, some of which were deemed critical, though all were non-hazardous in terms of public health.

Read the story, "Soured," here.

Below is Jeff Kleinpeter's FB post.

First, I want you to know, on behalf of our family and our hard-working team, how much we appreciate your patience, support and encouragement. I can say to you with confidence, that our Team has worked very hard to restore the quality that you expect from our products, and we want to invite you back to try the taste you have grown to love. Here is an update on what we have been doing to help ensure the quality of our products.

  1. The shelf life of our milk is critically important to us. We conducted shelf life studies that helped us identify areas where we could improve, and then we hired an expert who specializes in SQF Certification (Safe Quality Foods) to guide us on implementing those improvements. Our shelf life testing procedures are better than they've ever been during the 101 years we've been in business. Our team is continuing to work diligently-24 hours a day, and 7 days a week on this critically important issue.
  2. Made many refrigeration system improvements that now keep our milk even colder, which has extended the shelf life of our products.
  3. Hired two consultants with more than 100 years' experience in overall dairy operations to double check every part of our plant to ensure that we act on every opportunity for improvement.
  4. Initiated new and better procedures in all our milk plant operations.
  5. Changed various milk flow valves to ensure product integrity throughout the facility.
  6. Hired a specialized consultant to help us identify areas of improvement, train personnel, revise existing SOPs (Standard Operation Procedures), implement improved preventive maintenance, sanitation, and quality assurance programs. The consultant is from Randolph Associates, Inc., an international firm that specializes in Food Safety System and Sanitation Systems.
  7. Hired a new plant co-manager with 38 years' experience in the dairy Industry.
  8. Monitoring quality at every critical point in our operation now, and the procedures we have initiated will continue indefinitely.
  9. Hourly and daily inspections are performed in all areas of our facility to guarantee cleaning procedures are being followed.
  10. A new sanitation company was brought aboard three weeks ago, and the representative for this company lives just down the street from us. He is very aggressive concerning quality, and his company has added expensive equipment to promote proper sanitation throughout our facility. He has trained many of our personnel himself, and he continues to take pride in our facility as if it were his own. This step has proven invaluable to us.

This certainly has been a humbling experience for all of us. We've learned that a reputation for quality must be earned on a daily basis. It cannot be taken for granted. We shall never forget that. We will never let up; we will continue to find new ways to improve.

We especially want to thank all of our customers for their continued support: Our grocery store partners, our hospital partners, our restaurant partners, our c-store partners, our school partners, and the consumers who make it possible for us to pursue our passion. Thanks again for sticking with us!