Challenges in maintaining the quality of milk

milk production


Milk may be considered as a complete food by the virtue of its nutritional properties. But, it’s hard to believe that most of the raw milk and various milk products are not up to quality parameters as per many reports. Furthermore, recently World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that in India adulteration is prevailing in milk and milk products and they have prophesized that if the same is prolonged and no prompt action is taken then 87% citizens may be on the verge of suffering from serious diseases by 2025 which may be as severe as cancer. Adulterants occur in the form of thickening materials which comprise of detergents, urea, starch, formalin and glucose are added to make more money. Merely adulteration is not responsible for inferior quality milk but also the sub standard milk is one of the important causes which may have high somatic cells in it leading to poorer shelf life. In addition to it poor handling, inefficient milk storage and transportation also adds to this. Notwithstanding this there may be many easy and economical steps through which the quality of milk can be maintained and prediction about the quality of milk can be done under homestead and farm or plant conditions. Considering above points, this article aims to throw light on easy and efficient ways to enhance and meet the quality milk and milk products.

Ensuring quality of milk

The procedure of milk production and reaching ultimately to the consumers occur through various steps. Firstly and foremost milk is produced, followed by handling, storing and then it reaches to the consumers through various marketing channels. In order to ensure good quality of milk the concept of clean milk production should be taken into consideration.

Clean milk production

Hygiene of farmer, farm and the animals are necessary for clean milk production. Clean milk starts right from the healthy condition of animal as well as milker. Both, the hands of milker and teats of cows should be sanitized before and after milking process. Udder and teats of dairy animals could be washed using 1% KMnO4. If machine milking is followed then it should be cleaned on a regular basis. Milking area, also, should be kept into consideration for cleaning and drying. Milker is advised to have turban. Properly sanitized and less edged milking utensils should be taken into consideration.

Proper handling of milk

A large part of the milk gets utilised into many processing industries and only small amount of market milk reaches to the consumers directly. Most of the milk quantity is taken for storage followed by processing. Milk is transported, generally, in small containers by Dudhwala usually under non- insulated conditions. While transportation, time taken and surrounding temperature directly affects the quality and shelf life of milk. Use of insulated and temperature controlled containers should be encouraged and followed. This step may help in increasing the shelf life of milk. In cooperative type of milk collection system milk is collected then utilized in pool of milk after rapid platform tests to check the quality of milk.

Proper storage of milk

Market milk is stored in refrigerated (5-7 degree centigrade) condition which is advised to maintain milk till it reaches safely to the consumer so that the quality of milk can be maintained. Shelf life of such milk is generally acceptably for 6 days.  Pouched milk is good than one kept in open container. Modern packaging innovations like Tetra packaging have taken milk shelf life and quality to the next level. It is a better method. Consumers are advised to take a note, very carefully, of expiry dates issued by selling companies before they consume milk as “it is better to throw it outside than throwing it inside” if the milk is of bad quality.

Efficient and economic methods to predict the soundness of milk

There are several methods, both lab and farm methods, to predict the quality of milk. Laboratory methods are costly and can’t be practiced in every condition. The methods should be quick and accurate, efficient and economical which can be adopted under home conditions. These methods include:

 Modified California mastitis test (MCMT) in which milk is taken in attached four cups of milk paddle and then freshly pre made few drops of Sodium laurel sulfate is added to each quarter (cup) and quality of milk is estimated in form of good milk having free flow and poor milk having variable viscosity.

Surf filled mastitis test (SFMT) in which 3% detergent is added in milk in 1:1. Poor quality milk is judged by gel like formation. More the jelly like formation more poor is the milk quality.

Lactometer can be well used for this purpose.

Government’s role

Government role becomes important to maintain the quality of milk for safe consumption of its people. Various central and state government labs should be extended to more in number to check the quality of milk at regular period of time. Governments should formulate the policies that may give a great priority to milk in food security.


Maintaining the milk quality standards is still a great challenge for India.  Concept of clean milk production should be considered important. Clean milk production may help to obtain good quality milk. Adulterated milk is a great threat to the well being of whole human society. Consumers should also take care about milk quality and its source. The above mentioned steps could be beneficial to them in this regard. Prompt corrective actions should be taken through government bodies and the role of producers is also equally important in this regard.

Co-Written by Amit Kumar Singh, Dhawal Kant Yadav & Manmohan Singh Rajput, Livestock Production Management Division. ICAR- National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, INDIA- 132001

Corresponding author: [email protected]




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