Samples, Measurements, and Documentation: A Milk Hauler’s Checklist
Milk haulers do much more than just moooove milk – they also play a crucial role in ensuring food safety and helping producers identify issues before they become problematic.
To give you a sense of the kinds of things that haulers are trained to look for, here’s a snapshot of a milk hauler’s checklist once they reach each farm:
- Evaluate Milk Quality – Check Milk Odor and Appearance
Before it’s accepted for transport, the milk’s odor and appearance must be checked by the hauler to decide if it’s safe to add to the milk already collected. If any off-odors are detected, the milk must be rejected to ensure that it doesn’t spoil the whole load.
- Read and Record Milk Temperature
The hauler must read and record the temperature of the milk at each farm, prior to collecting it. If milking was completed within the previous 2 hours, the milk temperature must not exceed 50 degrees Fahrenheit; and if the milking interval was completed over 2 hours prior, the temperature must be well below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. (NOTE: Some states have different requirements). If the milk is in excess of these, the hauler must report it immediately to the producer and testing facility so that equipment can be checked.
- Wash Hands & Inspect Bulk Tank
Haulers must employ proper sterilization and sanitization techniques to prevent contamination and to protect themselves against possible illness. After verifying that the milk is at the correct temperature, haulers must inspect the bulk tank outlet valve for deposits and/or foreign material, then clean and sanitize the valve. They should also wash their hands after attaching the hose and before measuring the milk (and be kept clean or rewashed throughout milk handling).
- Measure the Milk
Using a graduated measuring rod and the chart provided by the bulk tank manufacturer, the hauler should measure the milk (in terms of pounds) to determine the total quantity.
- Agitate the Milk
In order to get a proper sample for all necessary tests, the tank must be agitated for 5-10 minutes (depending on the size of the tank).
- Take a Sample
Using sterile equipment, the hauler must take a sample of the milk from the tank, doing everything possible to ensure that the sample taken is representative of the whole. The sample must be protected from contamination. It must also be clearly labelled with the sample source and date of collection.
- Refrigerate the Sample
To ensure that the sample remains representative, it must be kept refrigerated until delivery to the testing facilities.
- Pump Milk from Bulk Tanks
The hauler is now ready to pump the milk from the bulk tanks into the transport vehicle’s tank. He or she must shut off the agitator, if it is still running, before the milk level in the bulk tanks gets near the top of the agitator, to prevent loss of product.
- Disconnect Hose
Once the milk pumping is complete, the hose should be disconnected from the tank.
- Rinse Bulk Tank
Once the hose has been disconnected, the bulk tanks should be rinsed with cold or lukewarm water to make it easier for the farmer to clean them. Any sediment, churned fat, precipitated milk solids, etc. should be noted and brought to the attention of the producer and to the receiving plant. Haulers should also note, and report to the same parties any evidence that the milk tanks were not properly cleaned after the last collection.
Following these guidelines ensures that dairy farmers get proper credit for the milk they produce (both in terms of quantity and quality), and ensures that all precautions are taken to ensure safety and prevent contamination.
When you consider everything that has to be done as part of proper milk collection protocol, it’s amazing how quickly milk makes it from the farm to your fridge!