Because milk and dairy foods are the most highly regulated foods in the country, you can be assured that it is safe, wholesome and delicious. Maintaining milk’s freshness and quality is a job that starts at the farm and continues through processing. Farmers understand the importance of keeping their cows healthy and comfortable, and their dairy farms clean. They also understand the value of state and federal regulations to ensure the continued quality and safety of dairy products across the country. From the time the milk leaves the cow’s udder, it is chilled to about 38 degrees and remains cold in a stainless steel tank. Milk is then picked up at dairy farms daily and transported by truck immediately to a processing plant where it is tested, pasteurized and bottled.
Quality Starts on the Farm - Just as some people consult dietitians to help them eat right, many dairy farmers consult with feed nutritionists to design a well-balanced diet for their cows. Nutritious feed is the first step toward good milk. Properly sanitized equipment and thorough cleaning of the cow’s udder before milking is equally important. As the cow is being milked, her milk flows through refrigerated pipes to a sanitized bulk tank where it is immediately cooled down from her body temperature — about 100 degrees F — to 38-40 degrees F. This preserves freshness and guarantees safety. The milk is then picked up by a milk truck, which serves as a giant refrigerator on wheels.
On-Farm Testing Happens Daily - Before the milk is delivered to the plant, the truck driver takes a sample of the milk to test for impurities, such as animal-drug residues, that would compromise quality. If antibiotic residue is detected, the entire tank of milk is immediately discarded, never to reach America’s families. Government data indicates that less than one tanker in 1,000 tests positive for drug residues, a sign that the system is working.
Farm Inspections are Routine - Inspectors from state regulatory agencies and milk processing plants make surprise visits to farms on a regular basis. These unannounced visits are just one more set of checks and balances to make sure animal living conditions are clean, milking equipment is being properly sanitized and the facilities in general provide a safe working environment for all.