making a difference for dairy

Plant Operations

American dairy products are among the safest in the world.

Dairy manufacturing plants must meet stringent federal, state and local regulations, including those developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and state regulatory agencies.  Effective food safety procedures are used throughout the manufacturing process.

Food safety controls begin with the receipt of milk, cream and other ingredients. Typically, dairy ingredients are sampled and tested for animal drug residues, total bacteria count, temperature and composition. For non-dairy ingredients, most plants require that a Certificate of Analysis (COA) be provided with each shipment to document compliance with ingredient specifications. Any ingredient that does not meet a plant's specifications is rejected and returned to the supplier.

To ensure that dairy products are safe and of the highest quality, the majority of dairy food manufacturers use a plant-wide Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point plan, known throughout the food industry as HACCP. This includes good manufacturing practices, preventative maintenance programs for processing equipment, standard operating procedures and other food safety and quality programs. In addition, many plants use a strong on-going Good Manufacturing Practices program that is based on FDA’s requirements for food processing plants.

Learn More:

Resource Materials

  • Information on the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance 2015
  • Pasteurized Milk Ordinance 2013
  • Pasteurized Milk Ordinance 2011
  • "Control of Listeria Monocytogenes: Guidance for the U.S. Dairy Industry" Dairy products as a whole have a very good food safety track record thanks in part to pasteurization and in part to the hard work and diligence of the industry.

    One ongoing threat to this safety record is the risk of Listeria monocytogenes (Lm), a virulent, disease-causing bacterium which can grow under refrigerated conditions. Controlling Listeria requires making a clean product (pasteurization, pathogen-free raw materials, etc.) and preventing environmental recontamination by keeping Listeria out of the manufacturing plant and away from finished product.

    This Listeria Control Guidance Document has been prepared for the dairy industry by subject matter experts who work daily in the industry. It is intended to build knowledge and communicate best practices for a wide spectrum of food safety practitioners: hourly employees, engineers, quality professionals, senior staff, contractors, suppliers and more.