Milk producers ordered to apply hygiene practices

- Rajesh Khanal, Kathmandu

Dec 14, 2018-

A recent directive issued by the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control requires milk producers to implement best hygiene practices when producing, storing and distributing milk to comply with good manufacturing practices (GMP).

GMP is one of the components of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points that ensures risk-free production of perishable food items. It is a preventive food safety risk management system in which every step in the manufacture, storage and distribution of milk and dairy products is analysed for microbiological, physical and chemical hazards.

The department issued the GMP directive two months ago giving dairy producers six months to comply with the requirement. The directive needs to be applied throughout the entire supply chain—production, collection, chilling centres, processing, storage, transport and sales outlets.

Farmers need to follow good animal husbandry practice, good veterinary practice and good hygiene practice when milking dairy cattle and use vessels made of stainless steel or aluminium to collect milk. The regulation bars using water or any kind of preservative in milk.

Milk producers have to send milk to the chilling centre within two hours after milking. “If the supply cannot be made within the time limit, raw milk should be preserved by heating it at 57-68 degrees Celsius for 10-20 seconds,” the directive states. Chilling centres have to transport milk in insulated or refrigerated tankers at a maximum temperature of 10 degrees Celsius. They have to obtain a food licence to operate their business.

Dairies need to install machinery with a one-way flow system to prevent possible contamination. They have to maintain separate receiving, processing, packaging and storing sections. Factories are required to have a processing flow chart for each cycle of milk processing.

Dairies need to implement batch pasteurisation which involves heating milk at a minimum of 63 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes and cooling instantly at 4 degrees Celsius. UV disinfection should be used for packaging milk products. Dairies also have to conduct internal audits at least twice a year.

The directive is intended to check wrongdoings in the sector, the department’s Director General Sanjeev Kumar Karna told a programme on Thursday.

Department records show that most contamination cases involve dairy products, bottled water, edible oil and ghee which pose a risk to consumer health. Processed milk is found to be contaminated by coliform bacteria and have insufficient solid-not-fat. Even state-owned Dairy Development Corporation has been found falling behind on standards.

During a market inspection carried out six months ago, the department found that packaged milk sold in Kathmandu was adulterated with chemical contaminants such as washing soda and detergent chemicals. Harmful chemicals like bicarbonate, sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) and sodium carbonate were found in the 42 samples of packaged milk collected from 25 milk processing plants, which the firms had been using as neutraliser during storage.

According to Karna, the department has developed a mechanism to check if dairy producers have been following the directives. “We have planned to coordinate with local governments to monitor the sector at the farmer level.”

Consumer rights activists were doubtful the directive would be implemented effectively.

“With the poor market monitoring tools at the department’s disposal, consumers cannot be sure that the milk products they are consuming are completely contamination-free,” said Bimala Khanal, president of Consumer Eye Nepal.

Published: 14-12-2018 07:43

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