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From farm to
table

A farmer checks the milking equipment on a cow in a barn

Antibiotic and artificial hormone free

We pay the same careful attention to what’s in the milk we produce. For example, you can be sure that milk from Ontario dairy farms contains no trace of artificial growth hormones – their use has been banned in Canada since 1999. And while there may be times when a veterinarian prescribes antibiotics to help a sick cow get well again, that cow’s milk is must discarded for a mandatory period so that they have a chance to fully clear her system. All milk leaving the farm is then tested to verify that there is no trace of antibiotics or other contaminants.

At the farm

Quality control and assurance begins at the farm. Dairy farmers follow the Canadian Quality Milk Program (CQM).  This process of hazard analysis and monitoring guides farmers on management practices and operating procedures for navigating potential biological, chemical, and physical hazards. The program also helps maintain milk safety on dairy farms through increased communication and effective record-keeping.

Antibiotic and artificial hormone free

We pay the same careful attention to what’s in the milk we produce. For example, you can be sure that milk from Ontario dairy farms contains no trace of artificial growth hormones – their use has been banned in Canada since 1999. And while there may be times when a veterinarian prescribes antibiotics to help a sick cow get well again, that cow’s milk is must discarded for a mandatory period so that they have a chance to fully clear her system. All milk leaving the farm is then tested to verify that there is no trace of antibiotics or other contaminants.

Inspection

To help ensure quality and purity, milk is graded by a Bulk Milk Tank Grader (BMTG) before it leaves the farm, and a tank of milk can be rejected if it shows signs of spoilage or contamination. Chemical analysis cannot be carried out to any great extent on the farm, so a sample is collected and sent to the University of Guelph's Laboratory Services Division for raw milk testing.

A Bulk Tank Milk Grader inspects milk

Using common senses

Milk graders can also assess the organoleptic qualities of the milk. “Organoleptic” means it can be detected by the human senses: smell, visual appearance, colour and so on. If the milk is suspicious for any of these reasons, the tank might be rejected and dumped. The tank is always automatically rejected and dumped if the milk has been stored at a temperature of ten degrees Celsius or more.

Using common senses

Milk graders can also assess the organoleptic qualities of the milk. “Organoleptic” means it can be detected by the human senses: smell, visual appearance, colour and so on. If the milk is suspicious for any of these reasons, the tank might be rejected and dumped. The tank is always automatically rejected and dumped if the milk has been stored at a temperature of ten degrees Celsius or more.

A milk tanker being filled at a farm

Making the grade

Every milk tanker driver must take a course on milk grading and hold a bulk tank milk graders' (BTMG) certificate from DFO. The BTMG course is a two and a half day session that provides applicants with practical milk grading experience and an outline of the responsibilities of a BTMG.

Milk on the move

Moving milk from the farm to the dairy is one of the major responsibilities of Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO). Transporting milk is very much a co-operative effort between DFO and the independent milk transport companies that haul milk from farm to processor.

Every two days, for most producers, an insulated tank truck will arrive at the farm. Once the milk is checked by a certified bulk milk tank grader for temperature, odour and appearance, it’s taken to a processing plant. 

Making the grade

Every milk tanker driver must take a course on milk grading and hold a bulk tank milk graders' (BTMG) certificate from DFO. The BTMG course is a two and a half day session that provides applicants with practical milk grading experience and an outline of the responsibilities of a BTMG.

Interested in how dairy cattle are cared for on the farm?

Read the Dairy Code of Practice (PDF)
Dairy
farmer
verification

Verification is a key element of any quality assurance program. There are three primary types of verification that each and every dairy farm in Ontario are subject to.

on-farm audits

On-farm audits or validations are performed on each farm every two years.

self-declarations

Self-declarations are documents submitted by farmers between validations, indicating their ongoing compliance with the Canadian Quality Milk Program.

audits

These audits help ensure the proAction registration system meets the standards of national agencies and organizations.

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Sustainability & Animal Care

Our farmers work diligently to maintain exceptionally high standards of milk quality and food safety. A commitment to the well-being of their animals and care for the environment go hand in hand with these goals. 

Learn about sustainability