Milk Quality & Safety
If we could summarize what we do in one word it would simply be: fresh. Cows on NDA member farms are milked and that milk is hauled to a Darigold plant each day. That milk can be bottled or made into on of your favorite Darigold products in the refrigerated aisle of your local grocery store in as little as 48 hours.
There are several steps farmers take to ensure milk has a fresh, safe start before continuing on the journey to be delicious dairy products. There are milk handling basics every farm follows:
- Milk is never touched by human hands. Milk from cows moves from the milking machine through sterilized equipment into a holding tank.
- A cooling system rapidly chills the milk down to about 38 degrees, which preserves its freshness.
- Every single tank of milk is tested for quality and safety.
- After the milk leaves the farm every tanker is tested at the plant prior to unloading for the most commonly used antibiotics. Any milk that tests positive cannot be sold to the public.
- Since its introduction more than a century ago, pasteurization has been recognized around the world as an essential tool for ensuring that milk and dairy products are safe.
There are no antibiotics in milk and dairy products. How is that possible? While we produce millions of gallons of milk per day, there are several ways we can ensure it’s all free of antibiotics:
- Northwest Dairy Association farmers adhere to the national F.A.R.M. antibiotic stewardship program. Basic best practices for using antibiotics safely, per the label, and following withdrawal periods before a cow can reenter the milking herd after treatment are strictly followed.
- Milk from sick cows under antibiotic treatment does not enter the milk supply, it is discarded.
- Every tanker of milk is tested prior to unloading at a Darigold plant to confirm there are no traces of antibiotics present. Testing before the milk is off loaded ensures contaminated milk does not enter the plant.
- There are stiff financial penalties and farms run the risk of losing their license to produce if they ship milk that tests positive for antibiotics.
In 2006, all Northwest Dairy Association farms decided to forgo the use of FDA approved rbST, a synthetic hormone that helps cows produce more milk. While thoroughly tested over 20 years and found to be completely safe, we chose to provide the rbST-free choices dairy shoppers were seeking.