milk and milk products

Milk and milk products

RIKILT is a National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for raw milk and dairy products. There are many threats to food safety in milk and milk products. This industry is therefore well monitored in the EU. The NRL for milk and milk products is one of the few matrices which has a horizontal structure, it focusses on the matrix instead of specific threats to food safety. The National Reference Laboratory safeguards the quality of official analyses of milk and milk products in the Netherlands.

RIKILT is a National Reference Laboratory for milk and milk products. RIKILT safeguards the quality of the official analyses carried out in the Netherlands. RIKILT assures the quality of the official analyses carried out in the Netherlands, in milk products also via NRL Veterinary Medicines (antibiotics and anthelmintics), Pesticides, Dioxins and PCBs, Heavy metals and Mycotoxins.

The NRL Milk and Milk products also focusses on 3 specific areas:

  • Total aerobic count. This figure stands for the microbiological quality of the milk. Although the majority of bacteria in raw milk do not pose a problem to consumer health, a high count is a sign of inadequate compliance with hygiene rules for that batch of milk.

  • Somatic cell count. This figure stands for the number of mammary cells in the milk, which can be found in the milk if the cow is suffering from mastitis. A high somatic cell count is not good for the quality of the milk, but is also an indication that the animal’s welfare is not optimal.

  • Phosphatase. Alkaline phosphatase is an enzyme that that naturally occurs in milk. In general, the heating of products leads to the denaturation of enzymes: loss of activity. The special thing about phosphatase is that a heat treatment which corresponds with the demands for pasteurisation ensures that this enzyme is (nearly) totally inactivated. Thus the milk can be measured to see whether a producer has pasteurised the milk in the correct way. In addition, one can see whether farmer’s cheese has really been made with non-pasteurised milk, as is required for such cheese.

Maximum permitted values

For these three areas, a maximum permitted values have been established ((EC) No 853/2004).

There are reference methods which stipulate how te maximum permitted value must be determined. The harmonised reference methods ensure similar results throughout the EU. These reference methods are also so robust that norm exceedance can always be found if the relevant batch is analysed using the reference method.

The NRL monitors the quality of the official analyses in the Netherlands, and updates the reference methods. The NRL milk and dairy products does this in close cooperation with other European NRLs and the EU-RL.