Dairy farmers are in the business of producing food. They aim to ensure that the safety and quality of their raw milk will satisfy the highest expectations of the food industry and consumers. On-farm practices should also ensure that milk is produced by healthy animals under acceptable conditions for the animals and in balance with the local environment.
The overarching principles applying to the production, processing and handling of all milk and milk products are:
From raw material production to the point of consumption, all dairy products should be subject to a combination of control measures. Together, these measures (good agricultural practice - GAP and good manufacturing practice - GMP) should meet the appropriate level of public health protection.
Good hygienic practices should be applied throughout the production and processing chain so that milk and milk products are safe and suitable for their intended use.
Wherever appropriate, hygienic practices for milk and milk products should be implemented following the Annex to the Codex Recommended International Code of Practice - General Principles of Food Hygiene.
GAP/GMP together should be effective.
All dairy farmers, suppliers to dairy farmers, milk carriers and hauliers, dairy product and food manufacturers, distributors and retailers should be part of an integrated food safety and quality assurance management system. Good farming practices underpin the marketing of safe, quality-assured milk-based products.
The role of dairy farmers is to ensure that good agricultural, hygienic and animal husbandry practices are employed at the farm level. The focus should be on preventing a problem (including animal diseases) rather than solving it after it has occurred.
Good dairy farming practices should contribute to ensuring milk and milk products are safe and suitable for their intended use.
Note: A contaminant as referred to in this guide is any biological or chemical agent, foreign matter, or other substance, not intentionally added to food, that may compromise food safety or suitability.
Many dairy companies/cooperatives and countries are introducing on-farm quality assurance programmes aimed at assuring their consumers about the safety of their dairy products. This guide attempts to provide a generic framework for individual on-farm quality assurance programmes, focusing on both consumer safety and the image of the dairy sector.
The objective of the document is to provide a farmer-orientated guide to practices that are achievable all over the world covering those areas that are essential to manage.
The approach taken in this guide is to:
highlight relevant areas on dairy farms that need to be managed;
identify the objectives in dealing with each of these areas;
identify GAP; and
suggest control measures that can be implemented to achieve the objectives.
The focus is on the desired outcomes, rather than on specific, prescriptive actions/processes. The guide does not have any legal status and does not supersede national requirements.
The guiding objective for good dairy farming practice is that milk should be produced on-farm from healthy animals under generally accepted conditions. To achieve this, dairy farmers need to apply GAP in the following areas:
animal feeding and water;
animal welfare; and
For some of these areas, there are control points that must be managed to achieve defined outcomes. The guide contains guidelines specific to the five areas listed above but is not meant as a substitute for national legislation.
GAP also means that dairy farmers should ensure that appropriate records are kept, especially those that enable adequate traceability of:
the use of agricultural and veterinary chemicals;
the purchase and use of animal feed and
the unique identification of individual animals.
Records should also be kept of:
- milk storage temperatures (when available)
- veterinary or medication treatments of individual animals.
The owner of a dairy farm should also ensure that people undertaking and supervising the milking operations and management of the dairy farm are skilled in:
the hygienic milking of animals;
the administration of veterinary drugs;
the activities undertaken on the dairy farm in relation to food safety and food hygiene; and
health and safety practices relating to dairy farm operators.
Appropriate measures are also needed to maintain these skills through ongoing training.
The Guidelines are presented in two forms:
Good agricultural practice (GAP) and suggested measures are set out in tabular form for each key area: animal health, milking hygiene, animal feeding and water, animal welfare and environment.
Individual Fact Sheets that provide more detail for each area, corresponding to the GAP.
In developing individual, company or country-specific guidelines for good dairy farming practices (or on-farm quality assurance programmes), reference should be made to:
Codex Alimentarius: Food Hygiene and Basic Texts.
Codex: Recommended International Code of Practice - General Principles of Food Hygiene.
Codex: Draft Code of Hygienic Practice for Milk and Milk Products.
Codex Code of Practice on Good Animal Feeding.
FAO: Food Quality and Safety Systems - A training manual on food hygiene and the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system.
IDF GMP Code for Milking with Automatic Milking Systems (if relevant).
OIE Code of Animal Health.
In developing these Guidelines, reference was made to a number of on-farm quality assurance programmes that are currently being implemented in a number of countries.