Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Testing Milk for Antibiotics & Somatic Cell Count

Today’s shopper expects top quality products using the finest ingredients. Quality products start with the best fresh ingredients. That’s why we, as dairy producers, focus on milk quality. Two recent annual reports demonstrate how dairy farmers continue to improve milk quality.

Testing for Antibiotics in Milk

Every tank load of milk delivered from the farm to the milk processor is tested for antibiotic residues. In 2012 the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) tested almost 3.8 million milk samples for drug residues. Of these samples, only 828 or .017% tested positive. The milk that tested positive was discarded and never reached the grocery store shelves. The FDA found zero positive drug residue tests in pasteurized dairy products for sale.

Before the milk from our farm is unloaded, it must test negative for antibiotic residue

The Grade A Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO), which outlines rules all states must follow, requires that all milk tankers be sampled and analyzed for drug residues before the milk is processed. Any milk found positive is rejected for human consumption. Twenty-four testing methods are used, sampling for nine different groups of families or individual drugs. ALL milk, traditional and organic, goes through strict quality control and testing to insure it’s a safe, wholesome product.

Measuring Somatic Cells in Milk
Dairy farmers and milk processors routinely test milk for somatic cell counts (SCC). All milk naturally contains some somatic cells, which are white blood cells that fight infection. A lower somatic cell count is favorable, so dairy farmers take steps to make this happen by keeping cows healthy, providing them with a clean and dry place to relax, and making sure their udder is clean prior to being milked.

The most recent SCC test results illustrate the national average SCC has declined every year since
2005.

The average SCC in 2002 was almost 325,000. In 2012, the average was 200,000. This is a testament that dairy farmer’s continual improvements result in high quality milk. The milk you purchase in the store is pasteurized which eliminates most somatic cells. But it’s important to know, these cells are a perfectly safe part of milk.

This is good news because delicious dairy products start with excellent quality milk. Research shows 95% of consumers base their food purchasing decisions on 1) taste, 2) price and 3) nutrition. Dairy products bode well in all three!

To learn more about milk quality, check out these blog posts:
Quality Milk Starts at the Farm
The Truth about Antibiotic Use
Is there Pus in Milk?

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