Nutritious and Wholesome From Farm to Table
Everyone involved in U.S. Dairy - farm families, milk processors, product and ingredient manufacturers, scientists, government safety specialists, and representatives of consumer and dairy institutions - works to assure U.S. products meet strict U.S. regulatory standards and surpass customer and consumer expectations and requirements for quality and safety. Well-established laws, standards, traditions, and values makes U.S. Dairy a trusted partner for food and beverage companies and food service institutions around the world. The U.S. dairy industry wants to be the country of choice for nutritious, fresh, and wholesome dairy products and ingredients. That's why steps are taken from farm to table to consistently assure delivery of nutritious, fresh and wholesome dairy products.
On the Farm
As the United States is a vast country with a diverse climate, U.S. dairy farmers house and feed their cows in harmony with the weather conditions and the resources of the communities where they live and farm. Some cows graze year-round; others live in barns for protection from extreme cold and heat. All dairy farmers strive for healthy, well-tended cows, regardless of location or herd size. They know that cows fed a nutritious diet consistently produce wholesome, high-quality milk. Nearly all U.S. dairy farms are family owned and have been for generations. Dairy farmers work diligently to protect their land and water, while milking the number of cows required to meet the market's demand and their family's needs. Their efforts are often aided by:
- Inspectors who counsel farmers regarding proper safety procedures and enforce national regulations.
- On-farm tests for contaminants and pathogens.
- Veterinarians who visit frequently to check animal health.
- Animal nutritionists who assure the cows eat a rich and nutritious diet.
- Auditors who work with farmers to assure cows are healthy and treated well, in alignment with The National Dairy FARM Program: Farmers Assuring Responsible Management.
In the Plant
U.S. milk processers and manufacturers of dairy products and ingredients are fully invested in protecting the quality and safety of the milk they receive from U.S. dairy farmers. To deliver the finest products and ingredients to U.S. Dairy customers worldwide, they often take steps above, beyond and in advance of regulatory requirements:
- Analysis of vulnerable points in company processes and application of innovative and proven measures to assure quality and prevent and detect contamination.
- Alignment with recognized international standards such as the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) and Safe Quality Food (SQF) Institute.
- ISO certification, both for processes and products.
- Adoption of dairy product traceability from farm to customer.
U.S. processors and manufacturers also invest in continuous improvement and sustainability. The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy is a consortium of U.S. dairy farmers, U.S. dairy companies and food and beverage manufacturers collaborating with representatives of the U.S. government, academic institutions and non-governmental organizations. Together, they are working to further improve pathogen control, strengthen audit protocols and reduce risk in the supply chain.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enforces national laws that enhance the safety of dairy products and other foods and beverages made in the United States. State and local authorities regularly visit dairy farms and plants to verify compliance with all the rules. In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) protects animal health and milk quality specification standards. In the United States, government standards and protocols are in place to assure that pasteurized milk is produced safely. The FDA oversees a set of standards known as the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO) that specifies time and temperature requirements for pasteurization. It meticulously details how dairy facilities and plants must be constructed, equipped, cleaned and sanitized and how milk must be handled, stored and shipped. It also assures consistent and rigorous inspections of dairy farms, processing facilities and products across the United States. As a final check, U.S. dairy products and ingredients are tested at multiple critical junctures from farm to plant to port. Only products that meet the U.S. government's rigorous standards are delivered to domestic and international food customers and consumers.
Want more assurance of U.S. Dairy's commitment to its customers? The recently enacted Food Safety Modernization Act is pushing food companies across the United State to adopt scientifically proven controls that prevent contamination and to have capabilities to track and trace their ingredients and finished products. U.S. Dairy has led the food industry in testing and using these approaches in advance of regulatory enforcement.