Application of EU hygiene regulations for dairy sector

UK - The Foods Standards Agency has today written to enforcement authorities across the UK outlining a revised approach to the application of EU hygiene rules in the dairy sector.
calendar icon 20 October 2006
clock icon 2 minute read

This action follows the decision by the European Commission prohibiting the placing on the market of curd cheese produced by a dairy establishment in the UK. The decision sets out how dairy hygiene legislation, as it applies to antibiotic testing of milk, should be operated. Member States accepted the decision at the Standing Committee for the Food Chain and Animal Health on 6 October.

At an EU-wide meeting in Brussels on Wednesday 18 October, the Commission made a commitment to discuss the issue of antibiotic testing of milk with a wide range of experts across the EU. The Commission is particularly interested in the possibility of developing a rapid test that can detect all antibiotics subject to Maximum Residue Limits. It also gave a commitment to undertake a risk assessment of cheese recovery operations, involving EFSA as necessary.

Letter to UK authorities

In its letter, the FSA has made it clear to enforcement authorities that they should take immediate steps to ensure that hygiene rules are enforced at approved dairy establishments in the following way:

Antibiotic testing of milk: where raw milk gives a positive result to an antibiotic screen test, the food business has two options. These are either to carry out a chemical confirmatory test that will identify whether or not any antibiotic exceeds the maximum residue level; or to reject the milk and dispose of it as an animal by-product.

Interface milk: food businesses supplying or using interface milk must be able to demonstrate that it is fit for purpose and does not contain contaminants carried over from cleaning operations. (Interface milk is a mixture of milk and drinking water that derives from the start up and close down procedures for pasteurisation equipment. Such milk is generally processed into cheese or milk powder.)

Bursting of milk cartons: any activity involving the removal of milk from cartons or other packages (whether by mechanical or other means) for subsequent processing for human consumption must be undertaken hygienically and in accordance with the regulations.

Cheese recovery: all cheese recovery activities must be approved. Food safety plans and documentation must demonstrate clearly how hazards associated with cheese recovery are controlled and that raw materials are fit for purpose.

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