News on Adulterated Milk

What constitutes adulterated milk?

Tuesday, 06/09/2016

Milk Sense...
By Mike Phillips

State and federal dairy laws prohibit the sale of adulterated milk. Milk can be adulterated in many ways but there are three major adulterants that are dealt with frequently in the industry.

The most milk is probably dumped as a result of antibiotic adulteration. Each year millions of pounds of milk are discarded because of drug contamination. This drug contamination usually is traced back to a dairy producer returning a cow’s milk to the bulk tank before adequate time has been allowed for drugs used in veterinary treatment of the cow to clear the cow’s system.

This type of milk adulteration is picked up in the tests performed on samples from every load of milk received at dairy plants in the United States.

Another type of adulteration found is water contamination. Added water in milk is often a problem for small dairy producers. Producers must be very careful not to allow water used to rinse out milk pipelines to enter the bulk milk tank.

Another source of added water can be dips or low spots in a milk line. These low spots can hold water after a pipeline is rinsed or sanitized prior to milking. When milking starts, this water is then pushed through to the bulk tank. Inspectors do watch to see that all pipelines are straight and have the proper slope but lines do slip out of alignment occasionally.

Milk is subjected to a freezing point test to check for added water. Added water will change the freezing point of milk and the magnitude of the change can be used to calculate just how much water has been added.

There are penalties assessed to producers who ship milk adulterated with antibiotics and/or added water. The penalties are progressively more severe so continued adulteration problems can be very costly.

A third type of adulteration watched for on the farm by dairy inspectors is abnormal milk. While this category includes milk adulterated with drugs, insecticides or radioactivity which are monitored for in testing, it also includes bloody or stringy milk. Inspectors watch during milking time inspections to see that newly freshened cows and sick cows are milked last. This milk must be kept separate from the milk being sent to market in the bulk tank. Colostrum (milk secreted the first few days after calving) is also considered an adulterant and cannot be mixed with other milk offered for sale.

Adulterated milk is a problem the dairy industry has worked hard to eliminate. The milk on the grocer’s shelf today continues to be one of America’s safest food products because the U.S. dairy industry continues its vigilance to make sure that every dairy product found on the grocer’s shelf is a quality product that is safe and wholesome in every way!


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