‘Clean milk’ refers to raw milk obtained from healthy animals, that has been produced and handled under hygienic conditions, it should contain very small number of harmless bacteria, it should be free from hazardous chemical residues. It should be produced by healthy animal handled by healthy milker in an environment that ensures safety from physical or biological hazard and it must possess a good keeping quality without being heat treated. Clean milk production (CMP) involves a set of preventative practices that helps in keeping the animal healthy & free from diseases like mastitis, proper care monitoring of individual animal to get the best quality milk without compromising with animal’s productivity.
Milkbeinga complete food is nature’s most wonderful gift to mankind. The high nutritional content of milk makes it a perfect growth medium for innumerable microorganisms including pathogenic. The spoilage microbes cause the milk quality to deteriorate & thereby causing great economic loss to farmers. On the other hand, contaminated milk may cause milk-borne infections like Typhoid, food poisoning, and Tuberculosis etc. which negatively impacts public health. The unprecedented use of chemical contaminants such as antibiotics and pesticidesin agriculture food system has made milk chain vulnerable.
India is world’s largest milk producer with milk production of 163.7 MT in year 2016-17.India being a tropical country &the lack of cold chain infrastructure in the country renders the raw milk quality in India to be poor; there is much scope for the improvement in the quality of milkproduced by making quality strategies for the post-production handling of milk.
This article covers aspects related to clean milk production by adopting these set of practices our farmers can produce best quality milk fit for human consumption, reducing spoilage related losses & getting good returns in term of satisfied customers and high price.
In present era of consumer awareness, the customer’s key focus is on quality. Farmers can get good returns from milk if they ensure safe handling of raw milk by having in place a system at their farm that minimize contamination at various stages of handling raw milk and further keeps check on the growth and activity of microorganisms in raw milk.
Contamination at different stages can happen due to following undesirable practicesrelated to the animal, the milking personnel, process& environment.The common practices to ensure clean milk production are:
Practices Related to the Milker
The person involved in caring & milking of the animal is the key human being who comes in contact with the dairy animal. His awareness regarding health aspects, good animal husbandry practices & clean milk production, his personal habits plays a pivotal role in keeping the animals happy & getting best productivity. The milking personnel should get regular health checkups done, they should follow good hygienic practices like nails should be trimmed regularly, should keep themselves free from injury, cuts etc. They should wash & sanitize their hands before milking. Clothes should be clean, head should be covered; new mask should be worneach time. The milkers should avoid coughing, sneezing at the time of milking.
Practices Related to the Animal
Apart from following good management practices like purchasing good breed animals, keeping proper record etc. special emphasis should be laid on health of the animal. Sanitary precautions to prevent and control the diseases should be adopted. The animals should be properly bathed & well groomed. The animals should be examined periodically for udder and other infections. Infected animals should be treated by a qualified veterinarian.Animals suffering from infectious diseases should be isolated. The milk of the infected animal should never be pooled with the bulk milk until the animalrecovers from the illness fully.
Practices Related to the Milking Process
The way the dairy animals are milked, whether by hand or machine, whether full hand is used, how skilled the milking person is determines the health of animals & saving them from diseases like mastitis. The uddershould be washed and cleaned gently so as not to damage the teats &udder.For all washing, the best practice is to keep two buckets (one with plain water and a second, which carries thedisinfecting solution) with two separate cloths for both the purposes are required. A thirdbucket with a mild detergent solution and a third cloth is recommended for wiping theteats after milking. The first wash with tepid water should remove all dirt particles from the udder. A gentledetergent solution may be employed to remove persistent dirt. If the dirt is wiped off witha wet cloth, the cloth should be wrung outside the bucket.
During severe winters, lukewarm water should be used for udder washing to avoid chills. The temperature of the wash water should be below 55°C. Addition of hypochlorite solution (500 ppm) helps to disinfect the udder. Solutions ofquaternary ammonium compounds (200 to 400 ppm) are better substitutes due to their lessharmful effect on tissues. Under Indian conditions, the easily available Dettol or Savlon may be diluted as per the manufacturers’ instructions and used to disinfect the udder and teats.After washing, these organs should be dried before milking. A differentwashclothaswellas drying cloth is recommended for each cow. The towel used should also be washed aftereach milking and disinfected by boiling from time to time.
Disposable paper towels may be used instead of cloth. The udder and teats should be wiped with clean cloth dipped in detergent solution aftermilking.
Hygienic Practices During Milking:
After cleaning the udder & teats the next step is milking. During milking the first few ml of milk should be discarded, as it contains a large number of microorganisms. The initial milk should be collected in a cup or a utensil and should not be thrown on the floor, so that flies and other insects may not be attracted towards it.The milking should be complete, with no milk left in the udder after milking.
Milking should be done with full hands, quickly and completely, followed by stripping, ifso required. In farms with more than8 high-yielding cows, it is preferable to use a milking machine. If the herd exceeds 100, aseparate milking parlour will ensure better hygiene. Unhygienic practices such as dipping the fingers in milk and then wetting the teats tosoften them should not be permitted. Milking with the full hands and not with the knuckles is preferred as the knuckling leads tomore chances of teat injury.Sick cows should be milked at the end to prevent infection. The animals should be dried off 60-70 days before calving.
Hygieneof Milking Utensils:
The clean milk production practices are useless if the clean milk is to be stored in utensils that are not clean. Milk being a perishable commodity and easy carrier of off flavours has special requirement with regard to storage infrastructure & the milking. The milking utensils should be uniform; they should have small mouths to avoid external contamination.They should be made of a non-rusting and non-absorbent material such as aluminium orgalvanized iron. Stainless steel would be ideal. The use ofvessels such as empty paint buckets, dalda tins, pesticide/insecticide containers, teapots etc. should beavoided. The utensils should be free from dents, cracks and crevices. The utensils should be scrubbed and cleaned before and after each milking.
The detergents and chemicals used should be non-injurious to health, and non-abrasive tohands. At farm level, use of washing soda coupled with exposure to sunlight or rinsingwith scalding water or use of detergents-cum-disinfectants such as iodophor isrecommended.The cleaned vessels should be placed inverted forcomplete drainage of water after milking, so as to avoid contamination from bacteria of the air, insects, rodents, mosquitoes, reptiles etc.In villages where milk collection is carried out by co-operative societies, the use ofcommunity milking byres/parlours with facility to clean and disinfect udders/teats as wellas milking equipments under the supervision of the society officials is recommended.Milk should immediately be transferred from the barn to an appropriate place.
Practices Related to the Environment
The environment in which the animals are kept & milked plays an important role in determining the cleanliness of milk production. An environment full of mosquitoes & flies will hamper the milk productivity of animal as well as quality of the milk produced.
The places, where housing, feeding and milking of the animals are done, need special care in
order to minimize contamination of the milk. The animal house is a special building, which should be carefully designed and constructed so as to provide maximum comfortable and healthy housing facility for the dairy animals and at the same time to enable them to be milked in clean conditions. For maintaining good environment use of modern technological aids like insectocutors, pest control systems use of mosquito nets is preferred. It should be coupled with natural elements like planting trees in cattle yard & making clean water accessible. The animal house should be situated at an appropriate site.
Water should be available in plenty and proper drainage facilities must be there. There should be ample ventilation& sterilization through sun rays in the shed with enough space to house all the animals. Proper drainage system is an essential feature of every animal house to facilitate collection and disposal of liquid wastes so as to prevent contamination of milk.There should be arrangement forseparate accommodation for sick animals and animals about to calve.
Clean milk production must also ensure that only quality feedstuffs are offered to the animals&they must not be apotentialsource of contamination. Proper nutritionimproves the animal’s immunityand helps in reducing new mammary infections. Antibiotics help in curing disease like mastitis but indiscriminate use is a cause of concern. The administration of these drugs results in the secretion of their residues into milk. The best and economical method to reduce their residues in milk is by following stringent preventive measures like antibiotic administration to infected animals should be done only under veterinary supervision
Milk should be withheld for 72 hours. Regular monitoring of the raw milk supplies by means of suitabletestmethodand penalties for the delivery of contaminated milk is essential.
The indiscriminate use of pesticides in agriculture supply chain has led to their retention in animal feed. Theseresidues pose serious threat to public health by entering into the milk when these materialscontaining pesticides are used as cattle feed. Most pesticides are fat soluble, persistent and not readily excreted by the animals exceptinto milk. Being insoluble in aqueous media, they are unavailable for microbial degradation or detoxification. They remain stored in the animal body fat for long periodsin an unchanged form.These pesticides are metabolized at the time of lactation or stress and transported into the milk. Pesticides have toxicological effects like causing tumours. These pesticides & antibiotic is another major challenge to quality milk production. Organic dairy farming is a way to meet these challenges.
High quality milk fetches good price in market. Development of skills related to CMP, knowledge & application of the above standard procedures will help in reducing spoilage, production of high quality milk kept for long time & ensuring health of the consumers, farming families & overall prosperity to our dairy farmers. Clean milk production is the first key step farmer of our country should look at to meet the challenges of globalisation.
VipulJaglan, Rajender Kumar, Neha Chaudhary, PrashantShelke
Assistant Manager LUVAS, Hisar
Research Scholar ICAR-NDRI, Karnal
Lab Expert, Integrated Bee Keeping Development Centre (Indo-Israel project), Shahbad