The Co-operative carries out more than 14 million tests on its raw milk through to final product every year – that’s one test every two seconds. Testing is the front line of ensuring milk quality and safety lives up to the Trusted Goodness seal.
The testing journey begins on farm where the tanker operators look for anything out of the ordinary, check the temperature of the milk, as well as taking samples for random testing further down the track.
Fonterra Group Director Food Safety and Quality Greg McCullough says once the milk arrives at the site every 26,000 litre tanker load is tested. Throughout the journey, from the farm to the customers’ doorstep, Fonterra tests for more than 70 different things; from safety and quality aspects through to fat and protein levels, as well as how the final product tastes, smells and performs.
As well as world class technology, highly trained human instinct is required to determine the freshness and quality of the milk. Hundreds of samples of raw milk are smelt by a sensory tester every day, whose highly tuned senses enables them to pick up even the slightest whiff of milk that’s not up to scratch, and pizzas are cooked hourly to test the stretch and taste of the mozzarella at Fonterra’s Clandeboye site.
“We know fresh when we taste and smell it, so it’s an important part of the process. This along with the world class technology, the processes and people we have ensures that every step of the way we’re working to provide the highest quality dairy nutrition to millions of families all over the world.
“Our farmers take the utmost care to provide us with high quality milk. Our tanker operators continue to uphold this element of care when they check the milk before pumping it into their tankers and then again before they offload the tanker at the site. The workers in the factories as well as independent labs continue the process - every step of the way we’re checking to make sure our products are safe,” says Mr McCullough.
Testing is carried out by both Fonterra and independent laboratories. One of the independent laboratories is Milk Test NZ who test milk for the majority of the country’s dairy companies, and generate more than 8.6 million test results every year for Fonterra.
Every raw milk sample collected is tested for composition as well as going through up to eight random tests that determine indicators of quality. This process also includes Fonterra’s world leading milk fingerprinting technology, which can help determine which product the milk is best suited for.