“Since establishing a risk assessment management plan and an on-farm raw milk hygiene testing lab after a campylobacter outbreak in early 2012, raw milk from The Family Cow in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, is cleaner than pasteurized, says owner Edwin Shank. “We are doing what I call test and hold. We test every lot of bottles and hold them in the cooler until the test results are finished. Pasteurized milk has no regulation that requires you to hold it back until the test result is in. As raw milk producers, we are considered guilty until proved innocent, so we have to go over and beyond what is expected,” he says, adding that it is quite normal for his coliform counts to be zero or 1 per milliliter.
Shank worked with local Penn State University and state agriculture experts to develop the lab, adding that it costs approximately $1,000 to set up and between $5 to $10 for supplies to test each time he bottles milk. “If a dairyman asked me to mentor him, the first thing I would ask is if he were prepared to invest in a testing lab. If he said no, I would not agree,” Shank said.
Some other leading-edge technologies will further facilitate immediate testing that could allow raw milk to achieve virtually zero risk. Eighteen months ago, Ontario-based Dairy Quality Inc. introduced mpengo Dairy, a software application and testing kit that turns an iPhone 4 or 5 into a 600-power microscope that instantly measures a milk sample’s somatic cell count.
Since she invested $2,000 for the terminal and software, Alice Jongerden, of British Columbia-based Home on the Range Farm, no longer has to drive to the lab to drop off and pick up a milk sample for $52 per cow test. Instead, she can test on site for $4 and store the data record for each cow….”