3 July 1998


A previous Dairy Update

article outlined the

background to HACCP and

its future role in Farm

Assurance Schemes. Here,

Tony Blackburn, of

Reaseheath College, writes

on using the HACCP process

though a milking routine

GOOD practices in your milking routine will guarantee to lower mastitis and enable any milk hygiene bonus payments to be secured easily. Applying Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points (HACCP) will be cost-effective and make your Farm Assurance Audit easier to pass.

HACCP is a quality control procedure. Adhering to HACCP during a milking routine reduces the risks of hazards found and can improve milk quality and reduce mastitis cases and antibiotic failure risk.

At Reaseheath College, Nantwich, Cheshire, the benefits of HACCP have been realised through an improved mastitis policy which has encouraged better identification and monitoring of mastitis incidence. Positive action with high cell count cows and more effective disinfection of clusters between cows has helped reduce mastitis cases by 20% in the last year.

The first step in applying HACCP is to identify potential hazards, including microbiological, such as TBC and mastitic milk; chemical, such as water taints and dairy chemicals; drugs, such as antibiotics; physical, such as dirt and sediment; and abnormal milk, such as colostrum and blood

You may need a detailed knowledge to assess frequency and severity of risk – critical, serious or minor – and to decide on preventative measures for hazard control.

Check process

Go through the milking routine to check the process. This may lead you to discover that the routine actually being carried out is not the one you thought was being done.

Examples of this are the daily maintenance of milking equipment or the taking of foremilk.

Once the potential hazards have been identified, critical control points must be established.

Consider the three following examples, identified as critical control points (CCP).

Pre-milking checks: Physical risks include dirt, water and sediment. Cases of poor equipment function and microbiological hazards, such as contamination by dirty equipment, bulk tanks, clusters, are regarded as critical risk situations in terms of possibility of causing problems and a high risk of occurrence.

Milking routine: Physical risk, microbiological risks include contamination by mastitic milk, high cell counts, antibiotic, colostrum. These are high-risk situations with a high critical risk of occurrence.

Post-milking: Physical risks include cleaning, cooling and records. Microbiological risks include risk of water into tank, temperature of tank, time and temperature of cleaning routine and materials used in cleaning process. This is again a critical risk situation with a high risk of occurrence.

The next step is to set targets and tolerances for each CCP. These cover a wide range of items, such as biannual dairy machinery check, TBC Level for milk, somatic cell count, cases/treatment rates for mastitis, antibiotic failures, compliance with milk contract and other legal requirements of the EU Milk Directive.

This could also include aspects of farm animal welfare.

Monitoring systems for each CCP should be then be established to provide feedback to everyone involved.

Examples in our situation would be the use of our dairy companys hot-line to check TBC, cell count, antibiotic failures, critical analysis of individual cell count information, effectiveness of anti-microbial therapy to incidence of mastitis/occurrence of repeat cases and report on milking machine performance.

A system must be put in place that enables all people involved in the process to get the data quickly and on a regularly agreed basis.

We have experienced difficulties when information on TBCs was not communicated to the people responsible until a serious problem developed. For each CCP identified an action plan must be established.

In our CCP for cleaning and cooling, this would involve a prescribed cleaning routine specifying chemical usage, temperature and time, a bulk tank cleaning programme, a post-milking cleaning schedule for parlour, walkways, collection yard and a recording system kept up to date on disease incidence, drug use and outcome.

Once the HACCP plan is set up it must be inspected to check that it is working. Monitoring should concentrate on the CCP and check compliance with the set targets to include the cell count, the current levels of TBC, the number of cases of mastitis in the last month, how well staff are carrying out the correctly identified procedures and the need to modify the plan, such as cleaner cows entering the parlour.

Documentation is also needed, but this does not mean more paperwork because most of it should already be kept, such as health records, treatment records, drug use, TBC and cell count information. All the farm assurance schemes require this data already.

It is important that this information is kept in an easily accessible, suitable format, but it need not be computerised. &#42


1 Identify the potential hazards at all stages, their likely occurrence, and any preventative measures needed.

2 Determine what can be done to eliminate or minimise hazards.

3 Establish targets and tolerances for each point.

4 Establish a monitoring system using scheduled testing or observation.

5 Decide on corrective action needed when a control point fails to meet targets and tolerances.

6 Set up verification tests to ensure routine tests are effective.

7 Document all procedures and results.

The benefits of applying Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points (HACCP) have been realised at Reaseheath College through an improved mastitis policy, reducing cases by 20% in the last year, says Tony Blackburn.

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