|Canada’s food guide advises to drink 500 mL (2 cups) of skim milk (1%) or 2% milk every day for adequate vitamin D. Health Canada also advises that milk is one of the 9 most common allergens. You can choose to drink fortified soy beverages if you do not drink milk.
In BC, milk safety is regulated by the BC Milk Industry Act and Regulation. Dairy products are extremely vulnerable to contamination by disease causing micro-organisms or pathogens for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons include:
- Dairy products are high in protein and moisture. Both are needed for the multiplication of pathogens. As the number of pathogens in a food increases, so does the likelihood that someone eating that food will experience food borne illness.
- Dairy animals (cows, goats, sheep, others) carry pathogens that may also make humans sick. As a result, raw milk (milk that is not pasteurized) can be contaminated with pathogens such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, Coxiella burnetti causing Q-fever, and Brucella causing brucellosis. Because of this, it is important that all dairy products are pasteurized.
Pasteurization kills all pathogens making dairy products safe to the consumer. In an article (December 19, 2008) called Raw milk isn't safe, Dr. Perry Kendall, B.C. Provincial Health Officer states:
"Pasteurization of raw milk has prevented thousands of illnesses and deaths and is one of the great advances of public health of the 20th century.”
More information on raw milk.
It is critical that the dairy farms and dairy processing plants are hygienic and operated in sanitary manner that follow codes of good practice to reduce the likelihood of contamination of dairy products. If you are interested in constructing a provincially licenced dairy plant, there are a number of resources available that will aid you. While not complicated, it is a step by step process. Food processing facilities are responsible for ensuring the products they produce are safe to consume. The HACCP system or Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points is used by food processors to ensure the production of safe food. The HACCP system is a program which identifies and analyzes the potential food safety hazards in the food processing facility. The program then puts steps in place to ensure that those potential hazards cannot affect the final food product. The HACCP system can be thought of a system that prevents problems before they happen.
The information on these pages represent the work we do on behalf of the public, industry and government. Some of this information was written for the general public and some was written in technical language for public health.
Food Protection Services phone 604-707-2440
NCC Environmental Health phone 604-829-2551
Poison Control Centre phone 604-682-5050 or 1-800-567-8911