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Teagasc Milk Quality Workshops

The 2019 Teagasc Milk Quality Workshops were held in the Radisson Hotel, Cork on Monday, 25th November and in the Slieve Russell Hotel, Co. Cavan on Thursday 28th November.

Teagasc Milk Quality Workshops

This series of Workshops are an initiative by Teagasc to inform and support the various stakeholders in their actions to address concerns relating to milk and product quality. This year the focus of the workshops was on implementing the Ornua Board resolution to terminate the use of chlorine based detergents within the dairy industry by the end of 2020.

Approximately 200 people attended the workshops representing milk processors, Ornua, detergent supply companies, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), Irish Milk Quality Co-operative Society (IMQCS), Teagasc as well as the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), and College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) from Northern Ireland and company representatives from UK.    

Chlorine and chlorine based detergents have traditionally been the most commonly used cleaning agents for milking equipment on farms, within factories and in water disinfection. They are well recognised for their ability to kill microorganisms in a cost effective manner with minimal impact on product quality. However, there is increasing concern with regard to the potential occurrence of chlorine related residues, including chlorate and trichloromethane (TCM) as a consequence of their use.

The EU Commission are in the process of agreeing a Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) for chlorate in food. While Irish milk and dairy products are recognised internationally as being of premium quality, it is critical that as an industry steps are taken to maintain this international brand recognition. Removal of chlorine based detergents will help to ensure that new standards can be attained, but it is paramount that suitable alternatives are identified, and a secure road map to the implementation of new hygienic protocols is developed and executed.     

The workshops focused on the strategies being developed in collaboration with Teagasc, the dairy companies and key stakeholders, including the detergent manufacturing companies. Tom Beresford, Teagasc Researcher, described the background to Teagasc and industry collaboration in the control of chlorine related residues, while Conor Mulvihill from Dairy Industry Ireland updated the group on progress by the EU on agreeing the MRL, and the critical need for the Irish dairy industry to respond to any challenges emanating from this new regulation. Following this, results from research being conducted, both on-farm and within the processing plants, were presented by both Teagasc and dairy companies. Updates on new chlorine free cleaning products were provided by a selection of detergent distributors. The workshops included breakout sessions chaired by Tom O’Dwyer, Teagasc Dairy Knowledge Transfer specialist, that were designed to capture the views and suggestions of the delegates for dealing with the challenge of developing and implementing mitigation strategies for the replacement of chlorine based cleaning agents across the dairy industry.

In summing up the workshops, Tom Beresford said; “based on what was presented it is clear that new detergent protocols are now available and that further products are being developed that can be used at farm and processor level”. He further emphasised that a key message from the workshops was that new washing protocols had to be implemented precisely as outlined from the research studies, and that it is critical that adequate hot water is available at farm level to support the new washing protocols.