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Good manufacturing practices: On-farm dairy processors

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These good manufacturing practices (GMPs) are intended to prevent the introduction of hazards to dairy products from the farm environment as well as the processing environment. They are based on GMPs: Dairy processors, with a focus on hygiene practices that are unique to on-farm operations.

Record keeping

In a Preventive control plan (PCP), it is important to maintain and keep records of activities which demonstrate that the PCP is implemented and working effectively. Records can be in either a hard copy or electronic format. Refer to Record keeping for your preventive control plan for additional information.


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

Surroundings and outside property

An on-farm processing facility's location may result in increased risks to the product as opposed to facilities that are not on-farm. Thoroughly consider potential sources of contamination when deciding on the location of the dairy processing facility 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 facility increases the likelihood of dairy product contamination.

Roadways, driveways, parking lots

Roadways, driveways and parking lots are designed and maintained to minimize environmental hazards.


Depending on the time of year and weather conditions, the risk of contamination of barn yards and roadways may increase due to equipment travelling back and forth, manure from spreading operations, mud from farm equipment, as examples.

Dairy facility layout and design

The dairy facility design provides a good flow of product, employees and equipment to minimize the risk of cross contamination. The design provides a hygienic progression from the point where the milk enters the facility 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 facility.

General construction recommendations

Floors, walls and ceilings

Structures within dairy facilities are constructed of durable materials that are easy to maintain, clean and disinfect. The following conditions are necessary to protect the safety of food:

The above applies to processing and product storage areas within the dairy facility. A greater variety of construction materials can be used in other areas of the facility such as office, lunchroom and washroom as long as sanitation is not jeopardized.


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 facility including on the equipment. Properly closed windows and doors prevent dust, farm odours and chemical fumes from entering the processing areas.

Paint and coatings


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.


Proper illumination (whether natural or artificial) is important for safe food handling and thorough cleaning of the area.


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.


On-farm dairy facilities need to have adequate ventilation to provide a sufficient exchange of air in all parts of the facility and to keep the air fresh and free of objectionable odours, dust, steam and vapour.


Unclean air, excessive dust, odours, or build-up of condensation are all potential sources of contamination for dairy products. It is essential that the air supply does 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 facility.

Sewage and wastewater disposal


Properly designed systems will reduce the likelihood of contamination to the dairy processing 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 facility, 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


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

Facilities for equipment cleaning and sanitizing facilities (COP)

Other rooms (such as boiler, compressor, mechanical shops, retail outlets)


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


It is important that chemicals do not become a potential source of contamination.

Water and steam quality and supply

A fully documented program helps to ensure that safe potable water is always used in the preparation and processing of food.


The water supply needs to 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 reduces 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 needs to 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


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.



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 documented pest control program is essential in order to control pests that are likely to contaminate dairy products in a dairy facility. Strictly control pest control chemicals to prevent chemical contamination.

Employee training

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 facility employees is critical to ensure that the procedures and practices of these employees are such that the final product will not be contaminated.

Recall program

This program highlights the step-by-step procedures that would be implemented in the event of a recall.


The implementation of an effective recall system is essential to ensure the complete and rapid recall of unsafe dairy products from the market.

Product and environmental monitoring

Control of Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat (RTE) foods

The potential for the growth of L. monocytogenes (Lm) in dairy products depends on certain inherent characteristics. Health Canada's Policy on Listeria monocytogenes ready-to-eat foods provides guidance on a risk-based approach to controlling Lm in the processing environment and RTE foods.


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

Product labelling


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.

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