Twice each year we are inspected by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Dairy and Food Inspection Division. These inspection are unannounced and can happen at any time. We do have some warning because we know they happen every six months. Our last inspection was in April.
Just because the inspections only happens every six months, that doesn’t mean we can slack the rest of the year. Our parlor and milking equipment in sanitized twice each day. If a farmer was to “slack” they would notice a significant increase in bacteria in their milk. Most dairy cooperatives deduct payment on high bacteria counts. We keep a really low bacteria count in our milk that we actually get premiums.
For the inspection we do some extra cleaning. Dairy barns, parlors and milk rooms have to meet the same strict regulations that other food handling facilities do. These extra cleaning efforts include, painting any trim that has chipping paint, cleaning spider webs out of the high corners in our holding areas, washing windows, organizing the papers on our barn office desk and of course making sure the restroom toilet is sparkling. This past week, we repainted some of the blue trim in our parlor. The cows didn’t know what to think of it and ran though!
Dairy inspectors are tough (and they should be). No matter how much we clean, they seem to find something. One inspection we had a light bulb out and were written up for that. We have heard of dairies that were written up for a messy office.
The point of the inspection is to make sure our dairy facilities are doing everything we can to keep our wholesome milk from becoming contaminated. While some of the rules seem a little over board (like a clean desk) they show the dairyman’s commitment to quality. I hope to “catch” the inspector when he comes. I would love to follow him around and blog about what he finds.
Zweber Farms is a 4th generation family operated organic dairy. We are proud Organic Valley farmer members and sell our milk under that label. We also specialize in sustainably raised beef, pork and chicken and sell it directly to customers in Minnesota.Visit our website to learn more, www.zweberfarms.com