At Dean Foods, food safety and quality are always number one on our priority list. From receipt of raw milk to delivery to our customers, our products are continuously tested to certify that they are both safe and wholesome. Our process ensures that milk from farms and cooperatives meets our high quality standards, as well as state and federal standards, including water content, acidity, temperature, sensory, fats, microbiology, animal drug residues and more.
In 2008, we launched a Quality Improvement Program (QIP) in our Fresh Dairy Direct business. The goal of QIP is to ensure consistent food safety and quality standards throughout the supply chain. Under this program, each plant performs monthly self-audits, which are updated and reported quarterly. Our WhiteWave and Morningstar businesses have also launched similar programs, which include week-long assessments to evaluate laboratory, manufacturing, quality and technical capabilities. The results of these audits are used to create continuous improvement plans for each facility.
Every month, all plants are also internally measured on consumer complaints, sanitation and dozens of other quality factors to ensure that our customers and consumers receive the highest quality possible. To continually improve the sanitation of our plants, we began a shared best practice program in 2009 for environmental and sanitation verification across the country.
In 2012, Dean Foods launched a comprehensive quality skill building training program, under the umbrella of the Dean Foods Quality University. This web-based training allows us to deliver high quality training across all manufacturing sites. We have also implemented a proprietary Comprehensive Quality Audit to ensure that our thermal processes and procedures meet all requirements. Additionally, this year, we launched the Dean Foods Quality Award to recognize quality performance across the best fluid dairy and ice cream plants. The first awards will be presented in early 2013.
All Dean Foods plants are inspected by independent third-party auditors as a part of the Global Food Safety Initiative. Our inspections are conducted under the umbrella of the Safe Quality Foods (SQF) audit scheme. Under this program, we have achieved Level 3 for food quality, the highest level possible, and have maintained it since 2009. Dean Foods represents nearly 30% of all SQF-certified locations in the United States.
We have shown significant improvement in preventing quality issues before they reach the market. Today, we are working hard to move beyond detection and toward prevention of these issues across our entire supply chain, including our suppliers.
*Occasionally we use our national distribution system to ship and sell products not produced by Dean Foods. In 2010, a class I recall involved one of those products.
Food Safety Modernization Act
The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was signed into law in January 2011, aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus of federal regulators from responding to contamination to preventing it. Our work to comply fully with the FSMA has been extensive. In 2012, we conducted major training sessions covering 115 people at all more than 80 plants. We have conducted an extensive risk assessment on our processes, including biological, chemical, radiological and the risk of intentional contamination, resulting in the development of our Food Defense and Preventive programs. Dean Foods has a program that works in close concert with state and federal regulators to be the leaders in the industry in food safety and quality.
In 2011, we launched a comprehensive Supplier Quality Program to ensure that our suppliers have the proper food safety plans in place, including Hazard Analysis Critical Control Plans (HACCP), preventive controls, and allergen programs. Additionally, we have required our key ingredient and packaging suppliers to pursue the Global Food Safety Initiative certification for Food Safety. Our path forward is making sure all suppliers meet and exceed Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011.
Dean Foods has the most representation of any dairy company in the National Conference of Interstate Milk Shipments and maintains key leadership roles in critical committees. We are in full compliance with all provisions of the Grade A Pasteurized Milk Ordinance under the United States Food and Drug Administration and the United States Public Health Service.