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Archived - Guidance document for on-farm dairy processing operations
Registration and operational requirements

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Introduction and scope

This document is an interpretation/supplementation to the Dairy Establishment Inspection Manual (DEIM) to provide guidance for operators of on-farm processing facilities considering federal registration. This document contains a combination of regulatory requirements that are required by the Dairy Products Regulations and policy guidelines as outlined in the DEIM. It is recommended that the operator consults the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in the early planning stages of the project.

Note: In conjunction with this document the DEIM should be referenced and consulted for more detail in order to fully evaluate the programs, equipment, good manufacturing practices, and environmental conditions of on-farm dairy establishments in order to assess their capability to produce safe and wholesome products. On-farm processing operations are considered higher risk than other processing establishments due to environmental concerns, and as such require clearer direction on what is required to produce a safe product. A well designed facility, managed by qualified personnel and sound operational procedures and programs can mitigate the risks of these on farm processing operations. No one guideline alone can assure the safety of the product, however each in conjunction with the others can help to mitigate and control the risks to the product from the inherent potential contamination of the farm environment.

Provincial regulatory requirements must also be met. It is important that the operator contact the Provincial authorities for these requirements.

Registration package

(DEIM 3.5.1)

All registration documents are to be completed and signed by the applicant. A registration package is to include the following:

  1. Application for Registration of an Establishment CFIA/ACIA 3043: Application for Registration of an establishment forms may be obtained from any CFIA Office or on line. An application for registration of a dairy processing establishment is to be made by the applicant, in writing, to the Regional Director, CFIA, in the Region where the establishment will be located. This form is to be completed in full on both sides following the directions on the form. (Dairy Products Regulations 10.(1))
  2. Municipal, Provincial or Federal Documents: A copy of the federal or provincial documents of incorporation, partnership or proof of business name must be attached, as indicated on the application form. If the company is neither incorporated nor a partnership, a notarized affidavit must be attached showing the name under which the establishment will operate. The name provided on the provincial business registration or affidavit must be the same as identified on all documents presented for registration purposes. (Dairy Products Regulations 10.(1)(a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f))

    The applicant must give written assurance that the location, construction, facilities and nature of operation are in accordance with all municipal, provincial and federal requirements. This may require submission of a building permit, as well as written assurance from the appropriate authorities indicating compliance with environmental requirements (for example wet land drainage systems).

  3. Dairy Plant Information and Registration of an Establishment Record: This form is to be completed and signed by the applicant. (Location of the form can be found in the DEIM Chapter 3 - Appendix 3 - 3).
  4. Registration Fee: As prescribed in the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Fees Notice, Part 1 - Dairy Products Fees under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act, accompanied by validation of volume of milk the establishment will receive or production output during the 12 months following the date of application. For establishments receiving a volume of milk less than 100 000 hl, the current annual fee is $895. (Dairy Products Regulations 10.(1)(g))
  5. Plans and Specifications (Dairy Products Regulations, Section 10. (2)(a)):
    • Site plans showing boundaries of the site, the location of the dairy establishment in relation to all buildings, structures, roadways, driveways (including parking sites), railway lines, sewer lines, wells, public utilities and all manure storage areas, if applicable on the property. The scale and the north point are also to be shown. The site plan must also include the legal name and address of the company (Dairy Products Regulations 10 (2)(v)). The CFIA should be consulted during the planning stages of the project to verify the acceptability of the location of the facility on the site.
    • Blueprints/building plans. A hand drawn plan may be acceptable if it is neat, complete, legible and drawn to scale; diagrams are acceptable. The plan is to include a legend of the symbols used and the name and address of the company. The plan must show:
      • A floor plan of each level of the establishment showing the dimensions and function of each room or area (Dairy Products Regulations 10.(2)(i);
      • The location of walls, partitions, windows and doors, stairs and drains, including any other openings (e.g. hose ports and exhaust fans) (Dairy Products Regulations 10.(2)(i);
      • The descriptions of the materials used in the construction of all the equipment, floors, walls, ceilings and openings (Dairy Products Regulations 10.(2)(iv);
      • The descriptions of the types and location of the equipment (Dairy Products Regulations 10.(2)(iii);
      • The descriptions of the lighting, refrigeration, ventilation and plumbing (surface and floor) systems (Dairy Products Regulations 10.(2)(ii));
      • Product and personnel flow patterns throughout the establishment, from receiving to processing to packaging to storage and distribution (DEIM, DEIM

      Plans and specifications are to be agreed to by all parties, before commencement of any construction to avoid unnecessary expense and inconvenience to the applicant.

      Where additions, extensions or renovations planned for a registered dairy establishment involve changes to the blueprints on file, revised blueprints are to be submitted to the CFIA inspector prior to construction showing the changes and the impact of these changes on the surrounding rooms. Where an establishment wishes to make changes to the location of the equipment, product flow patterns and/or personnel flow, changes to air flow, changes to the critical process equipment, changes to the activities or products being produced, the proposed changes are first to be reviewed by the CFIA inspector (Dairy Products Regulations 11.1 (29)).

  6. Sanitation Program (Dairy Products Regulations Section 10. (2)(b)) (DEIM 1.10.05): For the purpose of registration, an outline of a Sanitation Program which includes:
    • The person responsible for carrying out the program,
    • The equipment and chemical agents to be used to bring about and maintain clean and sanitary conditions. The responsibility remains with industry to ensure that all non-food chemicals used in an establishment are safe and effective, meet all regulatory requirements, are handled in a manner that prevents contamination and in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.
    • The measures proposed (description of the tasks, including frequency of conducting the tasks and how the task is conducted) to be taken to ensure clean and sanitary conditions.
  7. Pest Control Program (Dairy Products Regulations Section 11.1(10)) (DEIM The pest control program is to indicate the measures to be taken to effectively and safely control insects and rodents and exclude any animals from the registered establishment.
  8. Recall Program (DEIM 1.10.06): A recall program is required to ensure an effective recall of any lot of food from the market. It includes:
    • The person responsible for carrying out the program,
    • The coding system description,
    • The notification and other procedures to effect the recall.
  9. Water Analysis (DEIM, Dairy Products Regulations 11. (2)(k)): It includes:
    • The source of the water and verification that the water source is acceptable prior to registration. If the source is a well, the sampling is to be undertaken by the operator, with the analysis (done at a provincially approved laboratory) as follows:
      • Chemical testing - range of chemicals will depend on local conditions, such as geological formation, seepage from fertilizers, pesticides or local exposure to industrial pollution. The Provincial Environmental authorities should be consulted to establish the range of tests to be completed.
      • Microbiological Testing - total coliform and E. coli.
    • A current certificate of water analysis showing acceptable results for bacteriological and chemical analysis provided by a provincially approved laboratory.
  10. A list of products produced by the establishment.
  11. Microbiological product and environmental monitoring program (DEIM, DEIM A program is required to indicate measures to be taken to ensure microbiological control over the product and the environment.

Before registration is recommended by the Inspector, a pre-registration inspection will be conducted by the CFIA to ensure the dairy establishment has provided all the necessary documents, the establishment has been constructed and equipped in accordance with the plans and all registration requirements are satisfied. An in-depth inspection will be completed within 3 months of registration.

The operator needs to be aware of the various sources of potential contamination on their farm, how these sources could lead to contamination of the product and what mitigating steps need to be in place to minimize this risk. The operator needs to be capable of manufacturing safe products in the on-farm environment they have chosen. The implementation of the following operational requirements will help to mitigate and control the risks to the product from the inherent potential contamination risks associated with a farm environment:


(DEIM 1.10.01)

The premises (processing facility) includes all elements in and around the building, including, the outside property, roadways, drainage, building design and construction, product and personnel flow, sanitary facilities and water quality.

Surroundings and Outside Property


The very nature of an on-farm processing facility's location may result in increased risks to the product as opposed to facilities that are not on-farm. It is for this reason that potential sources of contamination must be considered when deciding on the location of the dairy processing establishment on the farm.


Hazards which may contaminate dairy products in a farm environment (for example barn odours, fumes from chemical sprays) need to be effectively controlled. Presence of pests in the dairy establishment increases the likelihood of dairy product contamination.

Roadways, Driveways, Parking Lots


Roadways, driveways and parking lots must be maintained to minimize environmental hazards.


Depending on the time of year and weather conditions, barn yards and roadways can become messy from equipment travelling back and forth, manure from spreading operations, mud from farm equipment, etc.

Dairy Establishment Layout and Design


The dairy establishment is to be designed to provide a good flow of product, employees and equipment to minimize the risk of cross contamination. The design is to provide a hygienic progression from the point where the milk enters the establishment to finished product shipping.


Attention to good hygienic design and adequate facilities is necessary to enable effective control of hazards and prevent the introduction of pathogens into the establishment.

General Construction Requirements


Floors, Walls and Ceilings

Structures within dairy establishments need to be built of durable materials and be easy to maintain, clean and disinfect. The following conditions are necessary to protect the safety of food:


Properly finished walls, ceilings and floors are more easily cleaned and sanitized, which will minimize the risk of contamination of dairy products from environmental sources.

Utility Lines and Conduits


Dripping condensate or excessive dust from overhead utility lines can act as a potential source of contamination when suspended over work areas or areas of exposed product.

Doors and Windows


Pests may carry pathogenic organisms on and within their bodies which could be spread throughout the establishment and including on the equipment. Properly closed windows and doors prevent dust, farm odours and chemical fumes from entering the processing areas.



Properly finished surfaces will minimize the risk of contamination to dairy products by permitting thorough cleaning and sanitizing and reducing moisture absorption which could contribute to microbial growth.



The shielding of lights is necessary to prevent the contamination of dairy products from glass fragments in the event of breakage. Adequate lighting promotes cleanliness by facilitating the identification of unclean areas.




Unclean air, excessive dust, odours, or build-up of condensation are all potential sources of contamination for dairy products. The air supply must not contaminate the equipment or the dairy products.



Properly designed drains and drain lines reduces the likelihood of an unclean environment and contamination of dairy products. Trapping and venting of drains prevents sewer gases and pests from entering the plant.

Sewage and Wastewater Disposal



Properly designed systems will reduce the likelihood of contamination to the dairy establishment environment and prevent the introduction of pathogens.

Garbage and Waste Disposal



Adequate waste management will minimize the presence of pests and decaying product inside and outside of the dairy establishment, reducing the likelihood of dairy product contamination.

Hand Washing Facilities



Proper use of hand washing facilities is essential to reduce the likelihood of contamination of dairy products. Poor hand washing is known to be a major contributing factor in outbreaks of foodborne illness.

Employee Facilities / Employee Hygiene and Health


The cleaning (washing) of employee clothing is not permitted to be done in the home of the operator. The laundry shall be sourced out to an external cleaning company or done in laundry facilities in the establishment which are used solely for processing facility laundry. It is recommended that employee clothing be white or light coloured as this gives the appearance of clean and sanitary and identifies plant personnel. It is recommended that hair nets used are obvious and shower type, as these types can be easily seen and completely cover the hair.


Properly designed, located and maintained sanitary facilities are necessary to protect dairy products, equipment and containers from fecal contamination which may be carried by insects, hands or clothing; reduces the chance for the spread of contamination; and reduces the risk of contamination into the processing areas by way of air and pests.

Non-Processing Areas



Properly located, designed and constructed cleaning facilities and non-processing areas are necessary so as not to pose a contamination risk to food processing and handling areas and prevent hazards that might adversely affect the safety of a dairy product.

Non-Food Chemicals



Chemicals must not be allowed to become a potential source of contamination.

Water/Steam Quality and Supply

(DEIM, Appendix 19-12, Appendix 19-12A, Appendix 19-12B, Appendix 19-12C (under review), Appendix 19-12D (under review), Appendix 19-1)


The water supply must be safe, sanitary and adequate at all times to avoid the contamination of dairy products, equipment and containers and to ensure, effective cleaning.

Glass breakage policy



The implementation of a glass breakage policy is necessary to reduce the likelihood of introducing a hazard which may adversely affect the safety of a dairy product.

Raw product acceptability



Contamination of milk from animal and environmental sources during production should be minimized to reduce the risk of unsafe dairy products. Pathogen contamination and/or recontamination from poor handling procedures and growth of toxins from temperature abuse may cause a health hazard in the dairy product.

Equipment construction, design, installation and calibration

(DEIM, Chapter 11, Chapter 12 and Chapter 16)


Proper design, installation and maintenance of equipment provides for good sanitation practices and visual inspection. The design and installation of equipment has an impact on the effectiveness of cleaning and sanitizing to protect a dairy product from contamination. Pasteurization has been conclusively shown to prevent diseases which may be transmitted through milk.

Sanitation program

(DEIM and Dairy Products Regulations Section 10. (2)(b))


The implementation of a thorough planned and written sanitation program is essential to ensure product safety by facilitating the continuous effective control of food hazards likely to contaminate dairy products.

Pest control



The implementation of a thoroughly written and adhered to pest control program is essential in order to control pests that are likely to contaminate dairy products in a dairy establishment. Pest control chemicals must be strictly controlled to prevent chemical contamination.

Employee training

(DEIM 1.10.04)

Personnel, including the operator/owner, need to have the necessary knowledge and skills to enable them to process and handle dairy products in a safe and sanitary manner.


The implementation of an effective and up-to-date training program for dairy establishment workers is critical to ensure that the procedures and practices of these personnel are such that the final product will not be contaminated.

Recall program

(DEIM 1.10.06)


The implementation of an effective recall system is essential to ensure that effective procedures are in place to deal with any food safety hazard and to enable the complete, rapid recall of the implicated lot from the market.

Product and environmental monitoring



Sampling and testing of product and environment verifies that the establishment has control over its products and environment and verifies the production of safe food and compliance to regulatory standards.

Product labelling

(DEIM, Dairy Products Regulations, Food and Drug Act, Food and Drug Regulations, Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act, Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations)


To ensure that all dairy products meet the same criteria for production and sale; protect dairy products from product misrepresentation and economic fraud; and to be consistent to avoid consumer confusion.

For more information on the CFIA Dairy Program and the registration of dairy establishments, refer to the Dairy Products Regulations (DPR), the complete Dairy Establishment Inspection Manual (DEIM), and other resources on the CFIA's Dairy Products web page.

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