Milk used for EU dairy products is of the highest standard …
All food production in the EU, including that of milk and milk products, is carried out in accordance with EU Regulations (Regulation (EC) Nos 852/2004; 853/2004; 854/2004; 178/2002; 882/2004; 2073/2005), and the corresponding national legislation. In the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the EU Regulations for milk production are implemented under The Food Hygiene Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 (as amended), The Official Food and Feed Control Regulation 2009 (as amended) and The General Food Regulation (Northern Ireland) 2004. These regulations apply to primary producers and processors alike and are aimed at ensuring the safety of food and the consumer.
The regulations and official controls in place to verify industry compliance assure customers that milk products are produced on farms and processing plants which meet the required EU standards. Many of the dairy farms and processing plants in the United Kingdom also belong to voluntary quality assurance schemes providing customers with the confidence that the production of milk and milk products exceed the regulatory requirements. Farms and processors are also subject to monitoring by the British Retail Consortium on behalf of multiple retailers.
All dairy farms are registered and milk processing plants approved by the relevant enforcement authority (The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) on behalf of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) or Local Authority) and regular inspections are carried out. Technically qualified inspectors carry out a comprehensive programme of inspections, audits and testing to verify industry compliance of all aspects of production and processing including: milk purchasing, haulage, raw milk supply, product manufacture and distribution.
Milk used for EU dairy products is of the highest standard. The quality is regularly monitored in accordance with EU Hygiene Regulations with milk purchasers testing all farm supplies regularly. DAERA, on behalf of the FSA, also has a sampling programme in place and audits and monitors milk purchase results to ensure that milk placed on the market meets EU standards. According to data provided by DAERA, the average yearly Total Bacterial Count (TBC) results from 2011 to 2017 (August) are all below 19,000/ml (EU standard <100,000/ml) and Somatic Cell Count (SCC) are all below 250,000/ml (EU standard <400,000/ml) .
In addition to microbiological quality testing of milk DAERAcarries out a programme of residues surveillance at accredited laboratories in accordance with EU regulations (92/46/EEC; 96/23/EC; Regulation (EC) No 470/2009; Regulation (EU) No 37/2010; 97/747/EC). Random samples are collected from farms and tested for the absence of pharmaceutical residues specified by the EU. The extensive
range of residues include stilbenes, antithyroid agents, steroids, zeranol, ß–agonists, anti–bacterial, anthelmintic, non–steroidal anti–inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs),organochlorines (OCs), organophosphates (OPs), elements, mycotocins and radionuclides.
All EU dairy products for export are issued with Animal Health Export Certificates. DAERA veterinary officers issue certificates for every consignment exported from Northern Ireland to comply with importers requirements. This ensures total control of the export certification process by government veterinarians. A report released by the EU Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in 2015 confirms that European farmers and agri– cooperatives provide amongst the safest food in the world.