Aside from allergens, the carbohydrate sometimes referred to as “milk sugar” is another medical concern for many. Lactose intolerance results from an individual’s inability to metabolize lactose because the required enzyme lactase is absent or greatly
diminished in their intestinal tract.
Estimates show that 75% of adults worldwide have some decrease in lactase activity
during adulthood. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, flatulence, bloating,
abdominal distention and nausea. These symptoms occur due to the breakdown of
lactose into simple sugars (glucose and galactose) in the colon. When this happens,
compound used in commercial and industrial plastics, had been added to Chinese dairy products to make them
appear to have more protein. In China,
54,000 babies were sickened and four
died as a result of consuming the tainted
formula. Worldwide bans on Chinese
dairy products and milk proteins were
initiated, and many companies still refuse to purchase these items.
“…dairy product manufacturers
have many food safety issues and
opportunities that are unique
within the food industry.”
large amounts of hydrogen gas are released into the colon, causing pain and bloating.
Some of the remaining lactose may osmotically draw water into the colon, resulting in
loose stools and diarrhea. So, rather than consuming milk products, affected individuals will choose products like sorbets, water ices and juices. All of these items are produced in plants that may also produce milk products so, much as with allergen
control, separation of product types and proper sanitation are critical.
Appropriate selection, control, management and surveillance of suppliers are definitely not exclusive to the dairy industry. However, dairies do have some unique concerns that may not be experienced by most food processors. Raw milk can be sourced
from member producers, cooperatives, brokers or from the spot market. As a result,
dairy processors may not be able to do any type of audit of the producer of their primary incoming ingredient before it is received.
That’s where regulations like the aforementioned PMO come into play. The PMO
has specific requirements for milk quality that must be met (particularly for Grade A).
It mandates parameters for temperature, somatic cell count (indicating cow health),
antibiotic residues and bacterial limits. In addition, most states have additional mandates for things like milk-hauler truck inspections, wash tags to document tanker cleaning, permitting of tankers and monitoring of antibiotic residue testing.
Antibiotics in Milk
Mastitis is a common malady in dairy cows that may need to be treated using antibiotics. As some people have severe allergies to certain antibiotics (e.g., penicillin),
dairies must ensure that no milk contains residues above a standard limit.
When cows are treated with antibiotics, their milk is discarded until they are cured
and the antibiotic has cleared their system. However, sometimes a cow’s milk may be
reintroduced into the market too early, and the antibiotic passes into the milk. Many
times, this milk will get commingled with the milk from other farms and will lead to
the dumping of an entire tanker load. For this reason, all milk must be tested for the
presence of antibiotics before use.
In September 2008, FDA issued a Health Information Advisory concerning reports
from China of melamine-contaminated infant formula. Melamine, a nitrogen-based
Supplier Approval and Surveillance
Dairy food manufacturers use the
same criteria as most food companies
to approve ingredient suppliers. There
is typically a document review (
insurance, pure food guarantees, specifications, FDA registration, etc.) along with
the completion of a food safety questionnaire. In addition, the prospective
supplier may be asked for its most recent third-party food safety audit along
with corrective actions. (Companies
may also choose to conduct their own
audit rather than accept a third-party
However, the recent massive Peanut
Corporation of America (PCA) recall
may have cast some doubt on the validity of some third-party audits. Both of
the PCA plants involved in the recall received Superior ratings on their most recent third-party audits. However, federal
and state inspectors found evidence of
pest infestation, structural problems and
other questionable practices.
Thus, with limited personnel and resources to conduct audits at all suppliers, what can a company do to mitigate
risk? One option is to conduct Verification Site Visits based on an assessment
of risk. To accomplish this, prepare a list
of all ingredients and product-contact
packaging. For each item, determine the
level of risk for microbiological, chemical and physical parameters.
If any of the risk factors are present,
that factor receives a score of one (1).
Using a scale of zero to three (0– 3), the
“spend risk” (based on the amount of
the item that is purchased each year or
the level of cost) is determined. Low-vol-ume items would receive a zero, while
high-volume or high-cost items would
receive a score as high as three. When
finished, total all numbers to obtain a