Milking rattle snakes to create anti-venom may seem a long way from the dairy industry – but for UDC’s quality and technical services manager Chiara Wachtel, it’s not that far away.

“There are actually many similarities,” Chiara says.

“Both industries are about setting and following internal and regulated procedures to ensure product safety and quality.”

South Australian born, Chiara has had a colourful career, working for a UK based pharmaceutical company that produced rattle snake anti-venom.

“The process uses dedicated sheep flocks to produce the anti-venom. The organization relocated their production facility to Australia because of its disease-free status.

“Rattlesnakes would get milked in the US, we would then inject that venom into sheep in Australia and extract the anti-venom from the sheep.”

Chiara graduated from the University of Adelaide with a Bachelor of Ag Science, with animal production and food production systems her main areas of study. She has since worked across many industries, including meat, pharmaceuticals, timber, processed vegetables and broadacre agriculture in addition to running a beef and prime lamb farming enterprise with her husband.

Her role with UDC is her first foray into dairy industry and she has been with UDC at the Penola plant for nearly a year.

“My role is ensuring compliance with domestic and export regulations for milk products, so we can maintain our certification and provide safe, quality products within the specifications of our markets,” she said.

“I manage our requirements for the internationally recognized food safety system we adhere to, which is an important certification standard for many of our international customers.

The whole process of producing milk products is a partnership between the farming community and UDC to ensure we all meet quality targets.”

Chiara said traceability was a key quality element across the meat, dairy and pharmaceutical industries.

“The idea of paddock to plate is important in many ways. Not just as a fancy marketing idea, but also for tracing high quality suppliers that can be used for premium products, and ensuring contaminants are easily traced and issues can be fixed quickly.”