The change to upstream testing can be most clearly seen in antibiotic residue testing. Veterinary drugs, such as antibiotics, are used on farms to prevent infections and promote health in cows. To prevent antibiotic residues from accumulating upstream and seeping into dairy supplies, processors rigorously test samples to ensure compliance.
Lateral flow strip tests, for example, can be used to test throughout the dairy creation process: from field and farm to contract and in-house processing labs. This easy-to-use, accurate technology can detect a broad range of antibiotics found in cow’s milk both at or below European Union and Codex Maximum Residue Limits. Better yet, they often require almost no sample preparation and produce results within minutes.
FTIR is also being applied more widely at milk collection points. Using solutions that ensure easy installation and minimal moving parts for easy transportation, these instruments can test for both composition and untargeted adulterants.
By routinely applying these technologies, processors can more easily adhere to regulations and continue to provide consumers with safe products. They can also more confidently assure safety in their products, as well as prevent the large-scale losses incurred when contaminated ingredients are mingled with healthy supplies. As testing continues to move upstream, easy-to-use and transportable technologies such as these will be important.
3. Intuitive Instrumentation
The food processing industry generally sees high staff turnover. With broader labor shortages across several industries, dairy processors are also seeing more intense staff shortages. The specific and lengthy training requirements within the dairy processing industry in particular means that these shortages are leading to workflow breakdowns and reduced productivity. To keep profit margins stable, processors need to embrace technologies that can help remedy these issues.
Intuitive instruments and software that delivers real-time learning can reduce training times and keep workflows optimized, even as staffs change. Through clever design, manufacturers can integrate useful features like touch screens, one-button operation, and automation to lower barriers to use for operators and scientists alike. They can also ensure that maintenance on the equipment is simple to perform, thereby minimizing downtime. These collective modifications can add up to big benefits in workflow efficiency.
4. Responding to Regulation in the Dairy Industry
A hallmark of the modern food industry is tightening regulation. Across the world, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is driving higher standards. This, combined with greater customer expectations of ingredient transparency, means that dairy farmers, collectors, and processors need to understand their product compositions and safety profiles better than ever before. To do this, the dairy industry needs robust instrumentation that can help provide proper antibiotic, mycotoxin, and pathogen detection across a wide range of products.
By leveraging FTIR and FT-NIR systems, for example, processors can perform adulterant pass/fail screening in one minute or less; using liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS), processors can thoroughly test for antibiotics and veterinary drug residues in milk; and with inline NIR systems, they can understand their dairy powder compositions in less than 10 seconds with no sample prep.
For efficient mycotoxin testing in complex dairy matrices, processors can also use DON ELISA kits, in which the workflow is designed for users to “set it and forget it,” minimizing manual intervention and manual error. Solutions like these are also highly efficient, helping lab teams process up to 192 samples in fewer than 90 minutes.
Equipped with the latest instrumentation and assay kits, manufacturers can best inform customers as to what’s inside their products, as well as help keep them safe from any possible adulterants.
5. Data in Dairy
While testing data solutions are currently being rolled out across almost every industry, they remain generally underused in the dairy industry, offering processors an opportune chance to get ahead.