Are You Ensuring Dairy Product Safety?

Written by Assure Cloud - AssureCloud Team
29 Mar 2022

Dairy is a staple in many people’s diet. It is an accessible and affordable food group that many
people rely on to sustain a healthy lifestyle. As a result, we are sure we do not need to emphasize
the importance of dairy product safety. It is a major factor of overall food safety.

However, there may be several aspects of the field that you are still a bit unclear about. It can be a
complex topic, but it does not have to be. Here, we will explain all the basics you need to know
about dairy product safety.

What are the milk and dairy product safety standards?

The regulations related to milk and dairy product safety are extensive. They have been set out by the
Minister of health in terms of section 15(1) of the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act, 1972
(Act No. 54 of 1972).

The laws set out restrictions on the sale of dairy products. For example, an organisation,
manufacturer or farmer is not allowed to sell raw milk for further processing if it contains antibiotics,
antimicrobial substances, pathogenic organisms, or if the contents exceed the Maximum Residue
Level (MRL) allowed for. The sale of dairy products for consumption is regulated in a similar way.

Other things you will find in the Act are the methods used to test dairy products safety, the
maximum amounts of microorganisms and chemicals allowed in products, and rules regarding the
labeling of products.

Whether you are a supplier, producer, processor, exporter, wholesaler or retailer involved with dairy
products in the supply chain, it is best that you familiarize yourself with these regulations.

Overall, the Act is in place to ensure that foodstuffs are safe for human consumption and to make
sure that consumers are safe from exploitation.

Why analyse milk and dairy products?

While food safety management is an issue that has been in emergence for years now, it is still not
fully understood – especially in the dairy and milk sector. Nevertheless, it is better to be proactive
than reactive, when it comes to dairy product safety.

Rather mitigate potential harm before it has the chance to happen. This is the first reason to monitor
your dairy product safety through a suitable testing schedule. If you do not, you may face issues
relating to the harm of humans and animals, and public criticism.

The second reason relates to penalties should legal issues arise from non-compliance. If your
products are found to be non-compliant, authorities may sentence you with a fine or imprisonment.

What do labs test for?

When you send your products to chemistry or microbiology labs, they are tested for a variety of
desirable and undesirable parameters.

In a microbiology lab, your products can be tested for pathogens like E.coli and coliforms. If these
pathogens are in high concentrations in your products, they could lead to the spread of disease
within the population. If they are below the allowed limits then you product is safe for resale or
consumption.

Chemistry labs will test for undesirable parameters such as heavy metals, mycotoxins, nutritional
information, pesticide residues, antibiotic residues, peroxides, added water and more.

Other things that should be tested for are solid contaminants such as minute pieces of glass or
wood, or sand, for example.

Chemical testing for desirable parameters in dairy products include determination of the fat,
protein, total solids/moisture and full nutritional testing for labelling.

How are dairy products tested?

To test your dairy products, they have to be sent to an accredited food testing facility. Here they will
use specialized methods to inspect your products. Each type of product will require a different
method. Below we discuss two of the “gold-standard” chemistry methods used to test dairy
products’ nutritional values required for compliance:

1. Rose-Gottlieb Method
This method is the ISO Reference Method for fat determination and is specifically used to test the fat
content in milk and dairy products. The fat is extracted from the product sample, dried and then
weighed. The Rose-Gottlieb methods provides superior accuracy to any other test method available
for fat determination and serves as the basis of accurate nutritional profiles.

2. Kjeldahl Method
The Kjeldahl method is the ISO Reference Method to determine crude protein in dairy products. It
provides superior accuracy to other faster/ more routine methods and is the industry standard for
protein determination in nutritional analyses.

Why is this so significant? Being aware of the accurate composition of products is important for the
labelling process. It is also important to ensure that your products have the necessary nutritional
values to accurately inform the consumer and protect you from any possible dispute in this regard.

What safety precautions can you take?

In addition to lab testing, which is the most important, there are a few measures you can implement
to ensure dairy product safety.

  • Make sure you are mitigating risks of contamination through proper waste management,
    storage of dangerous substances, and following appropriate milking practices.
  • Be aware of animal and plant health.
  • Keep an eye on your equipment to avoid using dirty tools.
  • Clean and disinfect regularly.

In conclusion
Ensuring diary product safety and compliance is a matter of public health and company reputation. It
involves investigating the physical, chemical, and microbiological elements of the product. To do it
correctly, you must be able to prove compliance in all of these areas.

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