Cool Chain

Food safety and consumer protection are key to keeping milk fresh in summertime

“This heat is unbearable!” During last summer’s record drought, no one knows how many times dairy farmers exclaimed this to the heavens. They and everyone throughout the supply chain made enormous – and more quantifiable – efforts to keep the precious milk cool despite temperatures of more than 30°C. The requirements they face are extremely demanding. In order to meet the regulatory standards, cooling technology has to be able to cool milk down to four degrees two hours after the end of a milking session. If the milk is already refrigerated during milking, it can reach the required storage temperature of below six degrees Celsius just after milking is finished. All that is laid down in European law, German law, and our MLO.


DMK employs 13 specialist consultants in order to ensure milk meets food safety standards, consumer protection and our milk delivery rules, and guarantee that the product can be marketed anywhere, particularly for export. The consultants can advise farmers any time free of charge to help them improve how they cool milk at their farms. They analyse processes and identify ways to optimise them. They start by looking at where the refrigeration units are located. Outside, they should not be near feed silos but under a roof and protected from frost.


If they are installed indoors, it is better if they are in a room with fresh air flowing through it rather than a milk chamber, because in the summer, room temperatures can rise enormously, making it hard for the units to manage the refrigeration process. It is also important that experts calculate the electricity consumption and how much power the refrigeration unit needs per hour for how many liters of milk. If the milk tanker comes to the farm every two days, the milk should be cooled to below six degrees Celsius there. Like thermos flasks on wheels, these tankers can transport 24,000 liters of milk to the dairy, protecting every drop. The cool chain has to continue through each stage without interruption. When all the steps are fulfilled and the milk is bottled, it is stored at between 4 and 5 degrees Celsius in the dairy refrigerator until the next step on its journey.


The last stage of the journey, to the consumer, also is regulated by temperature requirements. The milk has to be stored and transported at between two and seven degrees Celsius. Cooling data loggers monitor whether the cold chain is maintained throughout. Technology means data such as operating conditions, temperature and temperature variation can be followed live online. That’s cool.


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