A friendly reminder to producers to review and check these commonly found issues that can affect quality milk and potentially lead to milk rejections:
- Check for proper cooling and operation of condensing equipment. This is usually at greater risk when we experience temperature swings like hot summer weather.
- Proper maintenance of plate coolers, milk pumps, and gaskets
- Gasket deterioration is a main concern for plate coolers as black particles can contaminate a farm’s milk supply and deem the milk unsaleable. Most of the rejections we have seen for ‘black specs’, we believe have been associated with plate coolers.
- Antibiotic treatment protocols.
Common reasons for rejections
Producers should be mindful of possible reasons their milk can be rejected. In order to prevent milk rejections on your farm, below are some common defects that BTMG’s look for when grading milk, and if found, the tank of milk must be rejected: (Note: this list is not complete)
- Floating butterfat particles. If any butterballs have developed to the point they are noticeable on inspection of the surface of the milk, the tank is to be rejected.
- Abnormal colours. Any colour changes are indicative of a problem. (e.g. pink milk)
- Any debris or foreign matter. This includes dirt, hair, hay, vermin, flies, shavings, sawdust or other light airborne material. Producers are reminded to keep their milk houses clean to avoid any accidental contamination.
- Frozen milk or ice. If ice crystals have developed to the point they are noticeable on the surface of the milk, the tank is to be rejected.
The role of the Bulk Tank Milk Grader (BTMG)
A question that comes up often pertains to whether or not BTMG’s have the authority to reject a producer’s milk. BTMG’s help monitor the food safety standards for raw milk produced in BC by grading milk before pickup.
BTMG’s are the first person after the dairy producer to see the milk. It is their job to ensure the system starts with fresh, clean, high-quality milk. The dairy farmer and the milk processor depend on the BTMG’s to do a good job of milk collection and ensure no contamination occurs. BTMG’s are licensed and trained graders and must leave milk in the farm holding tank (milk rejection) when in their opinion, milk is abnormal in odour, contains objectionable matter or physical defects of any kind, is not consistent with good quality milk, has a temperature >4°C at one hour after completion of a milking, or is unmeasurable. This is done to avoid any contamination of the milk in the tank truck or to subsequent transfers of other milk into the tank truck. It is far less impactful if milk is rejected on farm than it is for contaminated milk to reach a tanker or milk silo.
We would like to take this opportunity to remind producers that the BTMG role carries a lot of responsibility. Their job is to ensure that the raw milk they pick up meets the Ministry’s guidelines and regulations for a clean, pure, and safe food product. The Ministry can and will rescind a BTMG license if they do not follow the regulations for proper milk pick up. The BTMG’s do not take rejecting a producers’ milk lightly. However, by not doing so, they know that the consumer may be affected, and they would risk their own livelihood along with the producers.
This time of year, we generally see a spike in Non-Qualifying Milk shipments. We would like to remind producers and their staff to ensure that the people working on your farm are familiar with and are following your Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and ensuring only quality milk leaves your farm.
Milk testing facilities for antibiotic testing are scarce. Please ensure that you have the resources to have your milk tested, for the drugs that are used on-farm, available when needed. A positive result is a very stressful time for a producer and having this knowledge and information ahead of time is very valuable; especially when it is after regular business hours. Please see the Non-Qualifying Milk Policy for more details.
The Responsibility of the Producer
Producers have regulatory as well as common law responsibilities (eg. Negligence) to a broad range of third parties that may foreseeably be affected by any quality issues with their milk. Please note that responsibilities and potential liability do not vanish after the milk leaves the farm.