100% Canadian Milk
At the Farm
Being a dairy farmer is a way of life, and Canadian dairy farmers are proud that their farms provide Canadian families with some of the best milk in the world. Dairy farmers spend every day with their animals, making sure that they have what they need to be healthy, safe and well taken care of.
Canadian dairy farmers must respect regulations in order to ensure the purity of Canadian milk products. The growth hormone recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST), which stimulates milk production, is not approved for sale in Canada – meaning that Canadian milk is free of artificial growth hormones. And whenever a dairy cow becomes sick and antibiotics are required, the cow must be clearly identified and her milk properly discarded for a mandatory withdrawal period until the medication has cleared the cow’s system. A producer who violates these rules would be subjected to severe fines.
The milking process
Cows are usually milked twice a day. Some farms milk their cows three times a day. The milk is collected by a milking machine, which is connected to a piping system that brings it to a stainless steel cooling tank. This tank efficiently cools the milk from 38°C (the temperature of milk just out of the cow’s teat) to 4°C in less than 60 minutes.
The milk remains in the cooling tank at 1°C - 4°C, or just above the freezing point, until it is picked up by the milk truck.
Milk is picked up at the farm every two days by an insulated transport tanker. The driver is responsible for determining whether a farmer’s milk is fit to be loaded into the tanker after checking its temperature, appearance and smell. He then takes a sample of the milk to determine the protein, lactose and butterfat content, and to test for quality.
The capacity of the regular tankers varies between 10,000 and 35,000 litres, and they are insulated to prevent the milk from getting hot in the summer or freezing in the winter. The reflecting surface of the trucks also provides protection against infrared rays and reduces the degree of heat on the tank. Likewise, insulated silos at the plant keep the milk below 4°C.
Quality control procedures
Dairy farmers in Canada are implementing a food safety program on their farms. Called Canadian Quality Milk, this program keeps track of a dairy farmer’s actions to prevent and minimize the risk of exposing food to safety hazards.
Dairy equipment, premises and production methods, both at the farm and at the plant, must meet strict quality and cleanliness standards. The stable and animals must be clean, and the milk house spotless, as they are all subject to periodic inspections. The quality and composition of milk are checked both when it is picked up at the farm and when it is delivered to the plant.
At the processing plant, milk is tested to ensure no antibiotic residues are detected; its temperature and composition are verified as well. Farmers are paid for the components of their milk and face heavy penalties if antibiotics are detected or if the quality of the milk does not meet proper quality standards. If the test reveals unwanted residues, the milk is properly disposed of.
The milk product distribution system is also subject to strict quality standards. Specific rules regulate the transportation of dairy products and their display in the dairy case. All products are identified and stamped with a “Best before” date. Routine spot checks are regularly carried out so that any product still in the dairy case after its best before date is removed.