The Agricultural Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued in August a draft certification program that aims to meet European Union requirements for somatic cell and standard plate counts for raw milk. At the same time, AMS opened a 10-week comment period to gather input from industry. In comments submitted yesterday, IDFA expressed general support for the program but asked for clarification on sample size, recordkeeping and proof of compliance.
The European Union Health Certificate Program outlines how U.S. producers and processors would be required to demonstrate compliance with E.U. regulations when exporting dairy products to the 27 member countries. The major difference between the United States and E.U. milk requirements is the maximum limit on somatic cell and standard plate counts for raw milk.
A somatic cell count is a count of the white blood cells found in milk. The counts are used as a general gauge of the cow's general health and stress level. Although the federal threshold in the United States is 750,000 cells per milliliter of milk, the strict standard set by the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance, the national average based on the Dairy Herd Improvement Association and USDA Federal Milk Market records is around 300,000 cells. The E.U. threshold is set at 400,000 cells.
While generally agreeing with the program, IDFA asked for clarification on how the sample size for testing will be determined, how assessments for seasonal variations will be handled and whether separate certificates of conformance will be required from producers and processors. For more details, read IDFA's comments here.
Read the draft European Health Certification Program here.
For more information, contact Jon Gardner, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs and regulatory standards, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or John Kelly, IDFA manager for international affairs, at email@example.com.