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What milk quality means to the dairy industry Contributed by Hoard’s Dairyman


hether we are referring to the dairy industry in the United States or in any other country around the world, having a milk supply of the highest possible quality is vital to the industry’s growth and prosperity. Producing quality milk is important in three ways: We must supply milk and other dairy products that are safe and nutritious. That is the only way we can maintain the trust and confidence of our ultimate customers, wherever they may be or whatever dairy products they are consuming. =

Producing milk of high quality improves the economic health of dairy producers and all businesses that depend on them. It also makes dairy producers greater stewards of our environment. =

And, producing high quality milk documents the commitment we have to providing a healthy and humane environment for cattle under our care. =

Dairy Management, Inc. regularly conducts consumer attitude surveys. Recently, it found that consumers have high degrees of confidence in milk quality and safety, and most consumers appear to be highly involved and positively engaged with dairy products. These results should not be surprising. Ours is one of the most heavily regulated industries from the standpoint of quality assurance along all supply channels. Our industry also has an excellent track record in dairy product safety. Fortunately, we have not had high-profile, food-related disease outbreaks such

as those associated with peppers, spinach, peanut butter, eggs, or some other foods. The few problems we have had have been addressed quickly and competently by the suppliers involved. The respect that our industry and its products have, make it all the more important that we continue our solid commitment to food safety and quality. And the dairy industry has been on a path of continual improvement. One of the most often analyzed and reported measures of milk quality is the somatic cell count (SCC) given in cells per milliliter of milk. It is an indication of mammary gland infection or mastitis. Every dairy herd should have an SCC goal of 200,000 cells per milliliter or less. In recent years, there has been a steady downward trend in SCC levels in the US milk supply. For example, the SCC trend among herds on Dairy Herd Information testing between 2005 and 2010 has been 296,000, 288,000, 276,000, 262,000, 233,000, and 228,000. In 2011 the SCC trend among herds was 217,000. David Barbano at Cornell University conducted research on the shelf-life of pasteurized milk. He demonstrated a significant reduction in the number of days (56 to 18) before an off-flavor could be detected when milk had an SCC of 25,000 compared to 1 million. Also, milk with low SCC levels produces higher cheese yields than higher-cell count milk. In fact, some cheese makers will not provide protein (cheese-yield) premiums unless a producer’s milk is below a certain SCC level. Milk and dairy product quality is important to all users of dairy products. For the US, it is becoming more important because we are relying more on exports. Dairy product exports recently have been as much as the equivalent of 12 percent of the US milk supply. Many global dairy market competitors have more stringent milk quality standards than the US. All countries wanting to export dairy products, including the US, must meet high milk quality standards in order to be a preferred source of dairy products. Some areas of the world, such as the European Union, are imposing higher standards on products from the US and other countries. For example, the EU has indicated that it wants to enforce an existing rule that dairy products from the US be from


National Mastitis Council

NMC Commemorative Booklet  

This book is a collection of the past 50 years of mastitis control, milk quality, the history of the National Mastitis Council, personal rec...

NMC Commemorative Booklet  

This book is a collection of the past 50 years of mastitis control, milk quality, the history of the National Mastitis Council, personal rec...