Milk Quality is Number 1
There are a number of quality checks that milk must pass
before it reaches your table. They begin right on the farm and
continue until you pick up your milk at the store.
BC has some of the highest standards for milk production,
transport and processing found anywhere in the world. Extensive
quality checks and testing unique to the dairy industry ensure that
BC consumers can always purchase high quality, safe and nutritious
dairy products. Enjoy!
Quality Checks on Every BC Dairy Farm
- Every farm is inspected and certified before it can produce
- Certified farms must meet provincial standards for quality
milk production and clean premises. This includes all milking
equipment, milking procedures, the milking parlour and barn -
everywhere the cows go must be kept clean and well maintained.
- Farms are inspected regularly to ensure that quality standards
- Cows are monitored regularly to ensure good health. Only
healthy cows produce optimal amounts of milk in the most
- Growth hormones such as BST or rBGH are not approved for use
in Canadian dairy cows.
- As soon as milk leaves the cow it is cooled and is kept cold
at all times.
- Before milk can be picked up it must be inspected and graded
by a licensed bulk milk tank grader. It is the grader's
responsibility to ensure that the milk is cold (below 4°C), smells
fresh and looks clean.
- A milk sample is taken from every farm tank when milk is
picked up. This sample is then taken to a certified lab where it
- Milk is transported to the dairy in stainless steel tanker
trucks. These trucks are also certified before they can carry milk
and are inspected regularly.
Quality Checks at Every BC Dairy Processing Plant
- Before the truckload of milk is unloaded at the dairy it is
tested for antibiotics. This ensures that all products meet the
strict standards of no antibiotics in milk. If antibiotics are
found, the farmer who contaminated the load may be held
responsible for paying for the entire load.
- The milk is also tested for temperature, acidity and odour
before it is accepted.
- Other tests are done regularly for bacteria, water
contamination and somatic cell counts. Somatic cell counts are an
indicator of animal health and milk quality.
- All dairies are inspected regularly for cleanliness, handling
procedures and equipment standards. All milk equipment is cleaned
and sanitized daily.
- Every dairy and all employees who work in the processing area
must be licensed.
- All fluid milk sold in Canada must be pasteurized. This is the
law and is necessary to kill any harmful bacteria that may find
their way into milk. Pasteurization also destroys spoilage
- Milk is natural - nothing is added except vitamins A and D,
which are required by law.
- Milk is packaged quickly - usually within 24 hours of arriving
at the dairy.
- Packaged dairy products are also regularly tested by a
certified lab to ensure they meet the strict standards for
composition and potential contaminants such as bacteria and
Quality Checks at Every BC Grocery Store
- Dairy products must be held at 4°C during transport and
display in the store to ensure their safety and quality.
- All dairy products are code dated to ensure they are purchased
at their highest quality. Dairy products not sold by their best
before date should be removed from sale.
To Maintain High Quality at Home
- Keep milk cold - pick it up last when shopping and avoid
leaving it exposed to warm temperatures or sunlight in your car.
- Check the temperature of your fridge to ensure it is below
- Keep milk containers out of the fridge just long enough to
serve. Return them to the fridge as soon as possible.
- Rotate milk and other dairy products; use older products
- Leave dairy products in original containers. They can pick up
odours and flavours of other foods in the fridge if left open.
View this document in PDF format (PDF, 647KB)
The BC Ministry of Agriculture and Lands
Ministry of Health,
and the BC Dairy Industry
For more information call a nutrition educator
at 604-294-3775 or 1-800-242-6455