Milk and dairy products are highly perishable products and must always be handled with care. Every handler at whatever stage must take high measures of hygiene. At the farm level, animals should be fed with high-quality feeds which are free from contaminants. A well balanced diet will impact positively in not only the quantity, but also quality of milk an animal will produce. Farmers must treat their animals well to keep off stress and enhance good milk production.
Farmers need to ensure that dairy animals are attended by a qualified animal health expert as needed. They have to remember to observe the recommended withdrawal period after administration of drugs to the dairy animals. This will ensure the milk if free from harmful antibacterial and chemicals. A mastitis test is recommended every day to ensure early detection of this disease and avoid selling or consuming contaminated milk.
Activities such as milk adulteration which compromise the quality of milk should be avoided at all levels. Milk should be delivered to the cooling plant as soon as possible preferably within 2-3 hours. Equipment used in milk handling at any level should always be clean to keep contaminants at bay. From this point, through transport and to processing, milk should always be kept at low temperatures of about 4 degrees celsius. The low temperatures should be maintained even after processing except for the ultra-high temperature processed milk.
Personnel handling milk should also maintain cleanliness as they too can be causes of contamination. Nails and hair should be kept short, with the later better covered. Wear clean protective aprons. Documentation at every stage is important as it helps with traceability. From farm level to retail outlet, it is important to keep records. Information such as the animal history, amount of milk produced, medication, delivery point and time, should always be recorded.
Every packet of either milk or products should have a batch number and contacts of the processor. This way, a consumer can be able to trace the product backwards until he catches up with the farmer if need be. Each packet should have the quantity of the product displayed as well as the expiry date.