Dairy production and products
 

Quality and testing

Good-quality raw milk has to be free of debris and sediment; free of off-flavours and abnormal colour and odour; low in bacterial count; free of chemicals (e.g., antibiotics, detergents); and of normal composition and acidity. The quality of raw milk is the primary factor determining the quality of milk products. Good-quality milk products can be produced only from good-quality raw milk.

The hygienic quality of milk is of crucial importance in producing milk and milk products that are safe and suitable for their intended uses. To achieve this quality, good hygiene practices should be applied throughout the dairy chain. Among the causes of small-scale dairy producers’ difficulties in producing hygienic products are informal and unregulated marketing, handling and processing of dairy products; lack of financial incentives for quality improvement; and insufficient knowledge and skills in hygienic practices.

Milk testing and quality control should be carried out at all stages of the dairy chain. Milk can be tested for:

  • quantity – measured in volume or weight;
  • organoleptic characteristics – appearance, taste and smell;
  • compositional characteristics – especially fat, solid and protein contents;
  • physical and chemical characteristics;
  • hygienic characteristics – hygienic conditions, cleanliness and quality;
  • adulteration – with water, preservatives, added solids, etc;
  • drug residues.

Examples of simple milk testing methods suitable for small-scale dairy producers and processors in developing countries include taste, smell, and visual observation (organoleptic tests); density meter or lactometer tests to measure the specific density of milk; clot-on-boiling testing to determine whether the milk is sour or abnormal; acidity testing to measure the lactic acid in milk; and the Gerber test to measure the amount of fat in the milk.

Quality and testing facts

  • Pasteurization is the main safety technique in milk processing.