Milk is an important food because it is nutritious and a source of protein, minerals and vitamins. However, milk is also one of the most contaminated foods and is subject to rampant adulteration. It is often diluted with water, skimmed milk powder, detergents, urea, etc. Besides all this indiscriminate use of antibiotics on lactating animals, pesticides in the agricultural fields and poor enforcement of regulations also contribute to the prevalence of residues in milk. Industrial waste, vehicular discharge of heavy metals leads to their accumulation in the soil and plants which reach the animals through the food chain and subsequently to human beings.
Food testing laboratories carry out milk testing for producers and manufacturers of dairy products to ensure quality control. Raw milk quality testing includes bulk-tank-milk testing as well as testing of individual cow, buffalo, goat, and camel milk samples. Raw milk testing includes a wide range of tests like
- composition testing
- total bacteria count
- bacteria virus and pathogen detection
- antibiotic residues
- foreign contaminant testing
- added water testing
Composition testing of milk is carried out by food testing laboratories to ascertain the content of fat, protein, lactose and other solids in milk. Quality raw material will produce quality finished products. Most milk products manufacturers send sample of raw milk to food testing laboratories to test milk composition so that it is regulation compliant. Food testing laboratories use the freezing point estimate to determine if water has been added to milk.
Somatic cell count is a count of the white blood cells present in milk that indicates milk quality. Mastitis, an infection of the udder leads to high somatic cell count. High somatic cell count means low quality of raw milk and presence of enzymes that break down proteins, fats, and other components. There can also be a presence of bacteria in milk which comes from poor milking methods, inadequate cleaning of milk equipment, poor cooling and because of mastitis infection. Like somatic cells, bacteria produce enzymes that degrade proteins, fats, and other components and therefor testing for bacteria count is also important.
Testing labs offer scientific expertise in identifying foreign contamination and the probable source of the contamination. Analytical testing laboratories can help determine if the contamination is due to natural causes or deliberate adulteration. No milk product manufacturer would like to use low quality raw milk as that would compromise the safety of the consumers. Besides any product recall of milk products can damage the reputation of the manufacturer. Testing laboratories can identify contaminants found in processing material and during production and can identify the contamination even in very small quantities.
Food testing laboratories with state of the art testing facilities can easily analyse various pollutants and adulterants in milk as well as heavy metals, antibiotic and pesticides residues. Raw milk testing goes a long way in improving the status of dairy enterprises. It also helps to build the capacity of farmers so they supply quality milk that is also safe.