Food safety is a priority for dairy producers and milk processors. There are many rules and regulations we dairy farmers must follow to ensure we’re producing a safe and quality product. Any dairy producing Grade A milk must meet specific guidelines established by the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO) to obtain a Milk Producer License. All Grade A dairy farms across the nation, regardless of size, must comply with the same rules.
To ensure we’re complying with all rules and guidelines, a state licensed milk inspector comes to our farm, unannounced, approximately four times each year. The inspector completes a Dairy Farm Inspection Report during the visit. We must receive a score of 90 out of 100 to maintain our license. If there are items we are not complying with, the inspector notes them and they must be corrected.
When the inspector visits our dairy, he focuses on things like;
Cleanliness of the milkhouse room which is where milk is stored in two 4,000 gallon tanks until the milk truck picks it up each day. This room must have clean floors, walls and equipment and everything must be sealed so insects can’t enter.
|This is our milkhouse room that houses two milk tanks|
Cleanliness of the milking parlor where the cows are milked. The equipment, stalls, floors and walls must be clean.
|The cows stand in clean stalls in our milking parlor|
Sanitation of all equipment utilized in our milking system.
|Milk meters in our basement – there’s one for each of the 24 stalls in the milking parlor|
|The milk receiving tank and plate cooler which cools the milk then pumps it to the tanks for storage|
Medicines must be labeled with prescription instructions from our veterinarian. All medicines, prescription or over-the-counter, must be kept on the correct shelf – either for “lactating” (cows that are currently producing milk) and “non-lactating” (heifers and dry cows that are not giving milk).
The protection of water quality is important. There must be equipment that prevents back flow from our water system back to the wells. Our wells must be equipped with check valves in addition to back flow preventers. There are also rules about which water can be recycled and which must be discarded.
|This is our water filtration system|
The bathroom facility must be clean and have soap, paper towels and toilet paper. All doors must be shut and contain a self-closing mechanism.
The inspector is usually at our dairy for about two hours and is detailed with his inspection. Our dairy is the first step in food manufacturing so it’s important that the raw milk leaving our dairy is safe and wholesome. The milk processing plants also have rules and regular inspections to confirm they are complying with all guidelines.
As a consumer, you can be confident you’re buying a safe and healthy product when you purchase dairy in the grocery store. Farmers, milk processors and government agencies have taken many steps to ensure you receive a wholesome product.