Dairy Food Regulations

Regulations provide standards for all food processors, small and large alike, to ensure quality food that does not harm consumers. Dairy processors must meet regulations that apply to all food processors, as well as regulations for dairy processing and standards for the specific products they are manufacturing.

Food products are regulated to ensure that the food supply is safe for all people. Regulations provide minimum standards for all food processors, small and large alike, to ensure quality food that does not harm consumers. Microbial contamination of foods is of particular concern for consumers that are more susceptible to illness, such as infants, small children, pregnant women, the elderly, people on some medications, undergoing treatments, or that may be otherwise immunocompromised.

Some food processing regulations are administered at the federal level and some at the state level or a more local level. Some regulations apply to all food processors such as registering your facility with the FDA and following Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), while other regulations may only apply to certain food products, such as pasteurization conditions or yogurt standards.

It is the responsibility of each food processor to make themselves aware of, and meet, all of the regulations in their area.

Milk, and the delicious array of products made from it, are an excellent source of nutrition and have had a place at the human table for thousands of years. Milk and dairy products have long been associated with foodborne illnesses, which led the milk industry to become the first sector of the food industry to implement its own regulations to improve food safety. When the first Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO) was passed in 1924, milk products accounted for approximately 25% of all foodborne illness, and now they account for less than 1% of foodborne illness. As so nicely stated in the 2015 PMO, "Despite the progress that has been made, occasional milkborne outbreaks still occur, emphasizing the need for continued vigilance at every stage of production, processing, pasteurization and distribution of milk and milk products. Problems associated with assuring the safety of milk and milk products have become extremely complex because of new products, new processes, new materials and new marketing patterns, which must be evaluated in terms of their public health significance."

Indeed, there is great innovation and growth occurring in all sectors of the dairy industry, and ongoing reports of illness and death from dairy product consumption. The versatility of milk allows the creation of products ranging from new artisanal cheeses sold at the local farmers market to specialty high-protein ingredients made using the latest in filtration and separation technologies that are sold on the global market. Whether a processor is making a traditional or an innovative dairy product, each product has its own manufacturing requirements, safety concerns, and regulatory requirements. Dairy innovators may need to go beyond the current regulations to provide scientific basis to show that their products are a low risk for causing illness.

The processor has the responsibility to meet the current

  • federal, state, and local regulations that apply to all food processors,
  • federal, state, and local regulations that apply to all dairy processors, and
  • regulations that apply to the specific food they manufacture, such as yogurt, ice cream, or Gouda cheese.

Pennsylvania allows the sale of raw milk and the manufacture of aged raw milk cheeses. It is recommended that manufacturers of raw milk products be familiar with state and federal regulations and resources for pasteurized products, as some of this information also applies to raw milk products.

County, city or other local departments of health may have regulations that apply to food manufactures in their jurisdiction.

The dairy industry in Pennsylvania is regulated by the Milk Sanitation Program of the Department of Agriculture.

Federal regulations for food processors encompass food safety, standards for manufacturing facilities, good manufacturing practices, and compositional standards.

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Dairy Food Regulations

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