OMAFRA's Dairy Food Safety Program

Table of contents

Raw Milk Quality Programs

Ontario's Raw Milk Quality Programs apply to the production of raw milk on dairy farms and its transportation to dairy plants for processing. The programs are based on a comprehensive legislative framework in the Milk Act (Ontario) and include inspection of farm premises and tank-trucks, certification and inspection of bulk tank milk graders, oversight of milk collection and transportation to dairy plants, and laboratory testing.

Raw Cow Milk

The Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO) administer the raw milk quality program for cow milk. OMAFRA is responsible for the monitoring and auditing of DFO's administration of the program. This arrangement is established through legislation and a comprehensive administrative agreement.

Raw Goat Milk

OMAFRA is responsible for the administration of the raw milk quality program for goat milk.

Transportation of Raw Milk from Farm to Processor

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) requires all raw milk to be graded before being transported from the farm and prior to being received at a processing plant as part of a thorough quality-control process, as per requirements of Regulation 761 under the Milk Act (Ontario). All graders must be certified as outlined under the Grader's Certification section.

Testing Raw Milk

A sample of milk is collected from the bulk tank before the milk is transferred to the milk tank-truck. A certified Bulk Tank Milk Grader (BTMG) ensures that the sample is representative of the milk in the bulk tank. These milk samples are refrigerated and transported to Laboratory Services Division, University of Guelph for regulatory testing. At the laboratory the milk is analyzed for composition (fat, protein, lactose and other solids), bacteria content, somatic cell count levels, the presence of chemical residues, and abnormalities. Goat milk test results are reported to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), who in turn, report results to producers as soon as possible. Cow milk test results are reported to Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO), who make the results available to producers as soon as possible. Producers are subject to penalties and follow-up action in cases where raw milk test results indicate food safety or quality issues ('adverse' test results). Producers are notified of any adverse test results and may be further contacted or visited by inspection staff to resolve issues.

Dairy Plant Program

Under the Milk Act (Ontario), OMAFRA licenses all Ontario dairy plants.

Dairy plants that distribute finished products out of the province or internationally, or that supply federally registered dairy plants with dairy inputs, must also be federally registered with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

Federally registered plants are inspected by CFIA and non-federally registered plants are inspected by OMAFRA. OMAFRA also has inspection responsibility for federally registered fluid milk plants that are not participating in the CFIA's Food Safety Enhancement Program.

Every licensed operator is responsible for ensuring they consistently produce safe products that meet all the relevant microbial and compositional standards. They are also responsible for ensuring that they operate and maintain their plants in conditions that meet all relevant federal legislation and/or provincial regulatory requirements as outlined in Regulations 761 and 753 under the Milk Act.

Each licensed facility that is inspected by OMAFRA receives the equivalent of one comprehensive in-depth inspection annually and as many follow-ups as necessary to ensure compliance with all applicable regulatory requirements.

OMAFRA Dairy Plant Specialists refer to CFIA's Dairy Establishment Inspection Manual (DEIM) when conducting their inspections. The DEIM is a set of industry-accepted guidelines developed and maintained by the CFIA, with input from industry and the provinces. The DEIM is based on federal legislation and regulations under the Canada Agricultural Products Act and the Food and Drugs Act. OMAFRA's use of DEIM is as a reference to industry accepted guidelines to compliment direct enforcement of the regulatory requirements under the Milk Act (Ontario). CFIA uses DEIM as an interpretation of federal requirements.

Food labelling and advertisement requirements are provided in the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act (Canada). Information on how to comply with food labelling and advertising requirements is available in The Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising posted on the CFIA website.

Retail outlets attached to a dairy plant fall under municipal jurisdiction and are inspected by officials from the local public health unit.

Environmental and Finished Product Sampling and Testing Programs

OMAFRA conducts routine targeted finished product sampling and testing along with environmental monitoring programs to check that milk products produced in provincially licensed dairy plants are being made in a safe environment and meet all the applicable standards.

For Species Other Than Cow and Goat

OMAFRA does not license or inspect dairy production, transportation or processing operations that handle milk only from species other than cow and goat. Milk from species other than cow and goat is not regulated under the Milk Act.

If finished milk products from other species are distributed out of the province or are used in federal plants as dairy inputs the CFIA will register and inspect the plant.

The local public health unit inspects facilities that process milk only from species other than cow and goat, and are not federally registered. In general, public health units are responsible for ensuring that these operations are in compliance with Food Premise Regulation 562 under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.

When requested, OMAFRA Dairy Food Safety Program staff will work with producers, transporters or processors who only handle milk from species other than cow and goat. Staff will assist new and existing operators in their operations related to farm premise standards, facility and equipment design, on-farm milking start-ups, milk-handling practices, milk transport to plants and plant processing operations.

Distribution Licensing and Inspections

Under the Non-shopkeeper Distributor Program, OMAFRA licenses and inspects distributors of fluid milk products to ensure milk products are stored and transported under appropriate conditions.

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 13 December 2012
Last Reviewed: 17 July 2014