Holy cow! It’s National Dairy Week #NationalDairyWeek

This week we’re celebrating all things dairy, as it’s National Dairy Week.

It’s very good news that the EU is in favour of daily milk for school children. Cows’ milk has been drunk by humans for centuries and is one of the most nutritionally complete foods available. It contains calcium and several minerals and vitamins that are needed by the body to remain in good health.

Let’s hope that the schools keep the milk in a fridge these days, though. I remember being at primary school in the 1970s and the free milk we had at school was never received with rapture as it was always room temperature (or warmer if it was winter and the crate had been left next to the radiator….)

How much milk do we produce in the UK?

Did you know that there are almost 12,000 dairy farms in Britain today producing around 11 billion litres of milk every year? We drink 5 billion litres of milk, 25 percent of which is organic, and the remaining 6 billion litres are used to make dairy products such as cheese, butter, yogurt and ice cream. It is also used to make dried milk powder, which you’ll find on the ingredients lists of many other different food products.

Over 95% of British dairy farms are Red Tractor assured. This means that as well as the milk itself meeting high standards of food safety, the animals’ health and welfare is high on the agenda as well as protection of the environment. One of the best milk producers is the Holstein-Friesian cow, which is why the majority of dairy farmers favour this distinctive black and white breed. The other 10% is made up of breeds such as Jersey, Ayrshire and Guernsey cows.

On the average dairy farm, cows are milked twice per day. However there is a move towards sophisticated robotic milking systems where the animals themselves choose how frequently they are milked.  Often a single cow will visit a milking station four or five times a day

HACCP plans are essential for dairies

Of course raw milk has to undergo several processes before it can be sold or used in other products. These are designed to kill pathogens such as Bacillus cereus, Campylobacter, E. Coli 0157, Salmonella, Staphylococcus and Listeria Monocytogenes. As dairy products are considered high risk, t is vital that those working in the dairy industry understand the possible risks of contamination and that dairies have appropriate HACCP plans.

Some of the most likely points at which contamination could occur are:

During the milking process  – where there is the possible risk of faecal contamination, antibiotic residue, chemical contamination from cleaning fluids, microbiological contamination from water used to rinse the milking machines etc.

Delivery and Storage – Temperature control is critical for delivery and storage of the raw milk. Strict temperature tolerances need to be set and adhered to.

Pasteurisation – Temperatures and times for pasteurisation are also critical, as is maintaining the correct fermentation temperatures if, for example, yogurt is being manufactured.

Our HACCP courses and consultancy provide all the information and guidance dairies require to operate in a safe manner. Our expert tutors have direct industry experience and we have trained delegates from some of the biggest names in dairy including Adams Foods, Arla Foods, Dairycrest, Dairy Gold, First Milk and Wensleydale Dairy Products, as well as smaller independents.

Ice Cream Alliance

In Britain we eat 9 litres of ice cream per head per year. And you might be surprised to hear that there are actually over 1000 ice cream manufacturers in the UK, making hundreds of different flavours of ice cream from strawberry, chocolate and vanilla to more unusual flavours such as bacon and eggs. They also have their own show, the Ice cream Expo, which took place last week in Harrogate, Yorkshire.

Verner Wheelock is a member of the Ice Cream Alliance, whose aim is to encourage and support the production, vending and consumption of premium quality ice cream and other frozen treats. Since vanilla ice cream is the nation’s favourite flavour, here is a very quick and easy no-churn vanilla ice cream recipe:

  • 379g can condensed milk
  • 600ml pot double cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Put the condensed milk, cream and vanilla extract into a large bowl. Beat with an electric whisk until thick and quite stiff (clotted cream consistency). Scrape into a freezer container or large loaf tin. Cover with cling film and freeze until solid.

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