Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Milk Inspector is Coming

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.

9 comments:

  1. Very Cool.
    Do you know where you milk is distributed too?

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  2. Thanks for the questions Allison. Our milk is shipped to Middlefield Cheese where it is processed into Swiss cheese. The cheese is packaged for a variety of labels so you might be consuming it if you eat Swiss cheese.

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  3. Glad to hear all went well for the inspection! You do a great job of describing all the details that go into the inspection :)

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  4. Sharing this! A great read and pictures to show what is required by dairy farmers and the standards we MUST do business by!
    Thanks!

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  5. Still an amazing concept to me that what we do on a daily basis is just the beginning of a series of events that allows so many celebrate their days with milk in their cereal, cream in their coffee, cheese on their sandwich, butter on their bread, ice cream on their warm pie and so many more wonderful products. Thanks for sharing another example of the regulations we keep up on to insure a safe food supply!

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  6. I am a dairy inspector in Tennessee and would like to commend you for the very neat and tidy barn that you have! And, thanks for your blog to let the public know about steps that you take to keep their milk supply safe!
    Margie

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  7. What is the advantage to the subway in the parlor? We are thinking of building a new parlor and are considering putting a basement under the pit.

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  8. Our milking parlor has a full basement. We didn't build it, we purchased the existing facility which was built that way. If we were to build a parlor, we would not build a subway. The only benefit of the basement/subway is it keeps the equipment cleaner. The disadvantages are, 1)if something is wrong with the equipment, we might not catch it immediately, 2)this is one more area to keep clean and 3)we must walk downstairs to check the equipment.

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  9. As a state dairy inspector for the past 25 years, we appreciate dairymen/women who care about their herd,facility and product. Milk is the cleanest and best quality ever and i know the processing plants and consumers appreciate it. Keep up the good work!

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Thank you for reading my blog and taking the time to comment! I’m opening the doors of our farm to share with you and enjoy engaging in discussion. Please be respectful in your comments. I reserve the right to remove posts that include name calling, slander, and vulgar language or contain links to websites that assault animal agriculture.

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