Hello! Is it Brie you’re looking for?

Sarah & kidsA local start-up business has thanked Mendip District Council’s Environment Health team for their support and assistance, which has helped them get to where they are today.

After moving to Somerset, Ian and Sarah Davies of Wookey Farm, Wookey, made the decision to start up their own business producing and selling goat’s cheese and milk. With little knowledge of the food manufacturing industry the couple’s first port of call was to contact Mendip District Council’s environmental health team to find out more about the rules and regulations around producing food products.

Michael Berry, an environmental health officer for the council, first visited Wookey Farm in December 2010 and while offering ongoing advice and support has watched the business grow into a successful local cheese producer. With retail outlets all over Somerset and regular stalls at the Somerset Farmers Markets, Wookey Farm goats cheese, which includes a brie-style cheese, a soft spreadable cheese and a Greek-style salad cheese, similar to feta, is proving to be a real hit with the consumers.

Nigel Taylor, Joint Portfolio Holder for Services and Corporate Finance, said: “It’s been great that our environmental health team has been able to assist this couple from the very beginning into the successful business they have today.

“A lot of what environmental health officers deal with is the unpleasant side of the business, however it’s great when such a good working relationship in forged with food producers and to see how well Ian and Sarah’s business is doing has made it even more satisfying.”

Wookey Farm Goats

Sarah Wickham from Wookey Farm Cheese said; “Having no knowledge of the food industry certainly made it quite a daunting task setting up our initial production room and coping with all the paperwork, but thankfully our environmental health officer, Michael Berry, came over to see the space right at the start, before we even installed equipment, to offer advice and explain what we needed to do to make it comply with the necessary regulations. As well as the initial help, Michael has always been very helpful putting us in touch with the right authorities and advising us on the sort of courses to attend.

“The business is growing year on year and we are delighted with how well things are going, if a bit exhausted! We are rapidly outgrowing our current room so will be making plans for expansion including taking on extra staff in the near future. No doubt we will be contacting Michael numerous times for more help as we take the business to its next stage.”

If you’re thinking of starting up a food business or wish to expand to new markets it may be worth contacting Mendip District Council’s Environmental health team to see what advice and support they can offer. Contact environment health on 0300 303 8588 or visitwww.mendip.gov.uk/foodsafety

To find out more about Wookey Farm and where you can buy their products visit www.wookeyfarm.com