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Farm to Fridge: How Best Practices Keep Your Milk Safe

From the farm to your fridge, there are many folks along the way who share the responsibility for protecting the quality and safety of your favorite milk and dairy products. Thanks to them, these delicious and nutritious beverages and foods are among the safest and highest quality foods in the U.S.

It all begins on the dairy, where cows are a farmer’s No. 1 priority. Farmers know that high quality milk comes from happy and healthy dairy cows. To make sure their cows are as healthy as possible, farmers provide safe, comfortable housing, nutritious feed and regular veterinary care. Dairy farmers also follow strict food safety regulations by maintaining clean and safe facilities.

During a cow’s milking, the milk comes out at the cow’s body temperature: 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s quickly cooled to 36 degrees Fahrenheit as it is transferred directly from the cow to a refrigerated milk tank. At that point, a milk truck comes to pick up the milk. The milk is then tested for quality and safety before it is delivered to a processing plant. If specific standards aren’t met, the milk is discarded.

If the milk passes, it is then pasteurized (heated to a specific temperature for a specific amount of time) to ensure its safety. It is then quickly cooled, packaged and delivered to your local grocery store.

From the moment milk and other dairy foods are pasteurized at the processing plant, it’s critical to keep them cold to maintain their quality and safety. Dairy case temperatures are closely monitored by grocery stores and other retail outlets, and you can do your part to make sure that your milk stays as cold as possible too.

For example, when you’re at the store, grab the milk last. Once you’re home, refrigerate it at 40 degrees or below. It’s recommended to keep your milk in the back of the fridge where it’s coldest.

All it takes is some best practices to keep some of our favorite foods and beverages safe and delicious.