Current Progressive Dairy digital edition

1608 PD: China crisis reinforces need for U.S. quality, safety initiative

Published on 06 November 2008

Recently, adulterated infant formula in China was linked to tens of thousands of illnesses and four deaths. The scandal has heightened the world’s concerns about political corruption in China and the integrity of Chinese-manufactured goods overall. And the “crisis of confidence” among Chinese consumers will take years to overcome.

Closer to home, the situation has stirred the emotions of U.S. dairy producers, who work relentlessly each day to follow regulations, meet standards and deliver a high-quality product. The producer-funded dairy checkoff program has been monitoring Americans’ response to the news and working behind-the-scenes to ensure continued confidence in U.S. dairy products and processed foods containing dairy ingredients.



A joint industry issues management team responded to media inquiries from New York Times, Bloomberg, NPR and Washington Post to reinforce U.S. food safety standards. In addition, the team supplied state and regional dairy promotion organizations, processors and co-ops with materials to respond to questions about U.S. dairy products.

To assist U.S. exporters in maintaining export market share, USDEC provided information to overseas buyers on U.S. food safety practices and developed a testing and certification program to meet the needs of buyers who require specific evidence that U.S. dairy products are free of melamine to a pre-determined maximum tolerance level.

Even before the situation in China began to unfold, DMI and U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) were working to ensure that the U.S. dairy industry remains focused on quality and food safety. Through USDEC’s Quality & Safety Initiative for U.S. Dairy Ingredients, a communications toolkit was distributed to help U.S. dairy ingredient suppliers communicate to their customers about food safety and traceability. DMI is convening an expert advisory panel to help define the “next generation” of traceability for U.S. dairy ingredients. DMI also is hosting a crisis preparedness workshop for ingredients suppliers. As consumer interest in food safety and source integrity grows, these programs will help strengthen the global competitiveness of the U.S. dairy industry.

Should I respond?
Yes. You can help reassure the public that the U.S. milk supply is safe. Remind consumers that food quality and safety is a top priority of U.S. dairy producers. Tell them how your dairy operation contributes to this.

DMI proposes the following ways to respond.


• Food safety remains a top priority for the U.S. dairy industry. Strict quality control and careful management practices start on the farm and continue through all steps of processing.

• Melamine has never been discovered in the U.S. milk supply or in dairy products manufactured in the U.S. • You can guarantee your family’s dairy products meet U.S. standards by looking for the ‘Grade A’ mark on the package.

Use these key points to help you communicate steps dairy producers take to ensure dairy product quality and safety:

• The Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO) contains a set of strict requirements for milk production, hauling, pasteurization, product safety, equipment sanitation and labeling.

• Milk is routinely sampled and tested throughout the supply chain by producers, co-ops, processors and state regulatory authorities.

• On my farm this means…(share a personal story about what you do to ensure product safety).


• The dairy industry is often cited by other industries as a model for food safety.

Related resources
Quality and Safety background for consumers:

The FDA is sampling and testing milk and milk-derived ingredients and finished food products that could contain ingredients from Chinese sources; current information is posted

NMPF’s melamine backgrounder:

Wikipedia situation overview:

Test your answer
What do you do on your farm to help ensure food safety?

ANSWER: Milk and dairy products undergo a number of safety, quality and sanitation procedures, including pasteurization. These procedures help make dairy products among the most highly regulated and safest foods available to consumers. Generation after generation, dairy foods have been a vital part of Americans’ diets. U.S. dairy farmers are committed to providing a safe, steady supply of dairy products. Let me tell you what I do on my dairy to promote food safety ... (insert personal examples).