Dairysafe conducts compliance audits of each farm’s food safety program annually to ensure milk is produced to national food safety standards and legislative requirements. The requirement to maintain a farm food safety program was introduced in South Australia in 2000.

“By following the requirements of your farm food safety program, the risk of poor quality raw milk is prevented or minimised, resulting in safe, high quality finished product,” said Dairysafe CEO Geoff Raven.

Dairysafe regularly reviews farm audit outcomes to identify trends that should be highlighted and addressed at an industry level. A recent review has highlighted the need for dairy operators to provide adequate evidence for a number of elements in their food safety programs, in particular cooling raw milk, maintenance of the dairy, antibiotics and purchased feed vendor declarations.

Current trending non-conformance areas include:

Monitoring of milk cooling efficiency and milk storage temperatures

Milk is required to be cooled to < 5ᵒC within 3.5 hours from the commencement of milking or within 2 hours and 20 minutes at the completion of milking based on the Early Milk Collection Index (EMCI) developed by the University of Tasmania.

It is a requirement of all farm food safety programs to record milk cooling efficiency at least twice a year, at peak capacity and at high ambient temperatures.

“The rate of cooling milk can have a major effect on the bacteria count of raw milk and therefore milk quality,” Geoff said.

The rapid chilling process controls spoilage bacteria known as Pseudomonas. These bacteria are very good at spoiling protein foods by breaking down proteins into shorter chain molecules which causes bitter tastes and eventually smells associated with rotting flesh. The bacteria create enzymes that break down milk proteins – these are called extracellular enzymes. They’re very heat stable and can persist through dairying processes such as pasteurisation and UHT treatment.

“Monitoring milk storage temperature and ensuring vat temperature gauges are accurate should be included in record keeping, plus any maintenance required by a technician,” Geoff said.

Maintenance of dairy premises                                                                                                            

The dairy and surrounds are required to be maintained in a manner that prevents the contamination of milk at all times. Milking areas are to be kept free of undesirable animals (cats, dogs and birds), as well as rodents and insects by maintaining a secure area with no accumulation of unnecessary items in or around the dairy.

Records of regular cleaning and maintenance of milking machine exterior, walls, floors, ceilings, light covers and surrounds should be documented to provide evidence of ongoing maintenance. Any repairs or change to equipment or infrastructure of the dairy, lane ways, or tanker access should be noted for audit purposes.

Incorrect administration of antibiotics

All antibiotics must be stored and administered as per the manufacturer’s recommendations. Incorrect administration of antibiotics may result in an inadequate withholding period before milk from a treated cow can be returned to the vat, resulting in antibiotic contamination of the milk supply

A permanent record of all cow treatments detailing cow identification, date, drugs used, withholding period and the date milk is safe to return to vat must to be kept for both lactating and dry cow treatments.

Purchased feed vendor declarations

All purchased feed sources are required to be accompanied by a vendor declaration to verify that feed materials are free from unacceptable taints and chemical residue and are suitable for the intended purpose.

Vendor declarations should be obtained for all stock feed intended for the milking herd.

If declarations cannot be easily obtained, a register of feed purchases should be documented. Include detail such as date, quantity, type of stock feed and vendor.

If grain is treated in storage, records of the date of treatment, chemical used, WHP and management to prevent treated grain being inadvertently fed to milking stock prior to end of chemical WHP must be documented.