Quality and safety

In order for the milk to always have its fresh and delicious taste, there is a number of measures that ensure that all milk is supplied with as high quality as possible.

The quality and safety of milk 

In Denmark, the raw milk is cleaned up in several steps before it ends in the milk carton. Mechanical filters are found both between the cooling tank on the farm and the tanker and between the tanker and the silo tank on the dairy. The actual cleaning of the milk takes place in the centrifuge at the dairy, where unwanted cells are removed from the milk. The milk is divided into skimmed milk and cream, as otherwise, these cells may affect the ripening of the cheese in an undesirable direction. The cells are not a danger to food safety, but they can affect the quality of the product in such a way that the product does not meet consumer expectations. Danish milk is some of the cleanest in the world with regard to cells and bacteria because the farmers focus on supplying milk of the highest quality possible.

Who guarantees the quality and safety of our milk?

The quality of milk is important to the consumer, both in appearance, taste and its potential effect on health. The quality of milk can be assessed by measuring factors affecting these properties, such as nutritional composition, physical and chemical properties, residues and hygienic factors (e.g. milking conditions, number of somatic cells, the total number of bacteria and number of thermoresistant bacteria). In Denmark, there is a graduated milk payment system that promotes the farmer's motivation for delivering a high milk quality with low numbers of somatic cells and the total number of bacteria. The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration and NaturErhverv are the competent authorities designated to enforce milk quality and food safety legislation, and this body routinely carries out farm inspections.

Did you know...

... fresh milk consists of a single, natural ingredient - milk! Milk is pasteurized for food safety, but there are no colours, preservatives, sweeteners or flavourings added.

 

The content of somatic cells in Danish milk

In the case of an infection, such as udder infection, the number of somatic cells in the milk increases. This may affect the milk's composition and quality. EU at present a legal limit of 400,000 somatic cells/ml at a geometric average. If milk exceeding this limit it must be rejected by the dairy, causing significant economic losses to the farmer. This directive encourages good agricultural practice to ensure the production of quality milk in Denmark and the EU.

 

If there are somatic cells in the milk, it is mainly white blood cells. These cells are naturally found in the cow and are part of its immune system.
Christian Bruun Kastrup, Chief consultant, Danish Agriculture & Food Council

 

Most cows that do not have - or have not previously had - an infection, the cell count is below 100,000 cells/ml, and it is widely recognized that a cell number greater than 150,000 cells/ml indicates an infection. High content of somatic cells in the milk tank indicates that there is udder inflammation in the herd. It is assumed that a somatic cell content of 300,000 to 400,000 cells/ml indicates that approx. 40% of the herd is infected. In the EU, a limit of 400,000 somatic cells/ml at a moderate average is allowed in milk. In Denmark, the average has been decreasing in recent years and is now at around 200,000 cells/ml.

Does the milk packaging contain harmful chemicals?

Most of the milk sold in Denmark is sold in plastic containers or cartons. The plastic containers are usually made of high density polyethene (HDPE). HDPE is a food contact material that protects the food, which is very light and can be recycled. Milk cartons are usually made of paper in the form of cardboard and of thin layers of the same approved plastic, polyethene. Regardless of the material used, it must be approved as "food contact material". The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration is responsible for monitoring the exposure and safety of materials that are in contact with foodstuffs and based on the current risk assessment, polyethene is approved as being safe.

Are there pesticide residues in milk?

In order to adhere to the EU legislation, which sets the maximum permitted concentration of pesticide residues in food,  the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration has a testing programme for monitoring pesticide residues and to ensure that consumers are not exposed to risks. The dairies and dairy industry in Denmark also carry out monitoring for possible pesticide residues. Pesticide residues have never been detected in Danish milk.

Does milk contain hormones?

The use of hormones in Denmark and the EU is totally prohibited in order to promote the growth of farm animals, including dairy cows. The concentration of naturally occurring hormones in milk is negligible and most are degraded by proteolysis during digestion. To put this into perspective, it is estimated that the typical intake of the hormone IGF-1 from a regular glass of milk is about 0.03% of the body's own natural daily production.