Dairy processing includes businesses that deal in the packaging, treating, cutting or manufacturing of dairy products, and the packing and storing of those products on the premises where they are processed.
It does not extend to dairy primary production.
Dairy products include colostrum, milk and any food that contains at least 50% milk or any substance produced from milk (by weight measurement). These include:
- liquid milk products, buttermilk, concentrated buttermilk
- dairy blend
- cream, thickened cream
- butter, butter concentrate, ghee, anhydrous milk fat (butter oil)
- yoghurt, cultured milk
- icecream, icecream mix
- casein, caseinate, whey, whey cream, concentrated whey cream
- buttermilk powder, lactose powder, milk sugar, powdered milk, skim milk powder, whey powder, milk protein powder
- other milk and concentrates.
Cheese producers wishing to produce raw milk cheese can download the Raw Milk Cheese Decision Support Tool. The tool was developed to assist cheese producers and food safety managers assess whether a particular raw milk cheese, and process, satisfies Australian regulations for safe production.
Any NSW business producing raw milk cheese must complete a production process pro forma, which is a written description of the steps used to make a particular product. The pro forma can demonstrate to the Food Authority that the production process used is effective in reducing the numbers of L.monocytogenes to a safe level. The Food Authority will review the pro forma and must provide approval before manufacture can begin.
Visit our Export page for information about the Dairy Export Assurance Program that includes a free export facilitator service to dairy manufacturers.
Operators in the dairy processing industry are required to:
- apply for a Food Authority licence online or download an application form (PDF), print and post it
- submit your completed pro forma with your application (for production of raw milk cheese)
- prepare for regular audits.
You must not begin operations until you are informed that your licence application has been processed. If the premises are found to be operating without a licence, enforcement action may be taken.
- For more see applying for a food licence
Skills & knowledge
There are no formal qualifications required for dairy processors, however each food handler and person in control of a food business is required to have food safety skills and knowledge appropriate to their food handling activities.
The full requirements are set out in the Food Standards Code, Standard 3.2.2 - Food Safety Practices and General Requirements, clause 3 and the FSANZ guide Safe Food Australia.
Construction & facilities
Construction and layout of a food premise must be designed to minimise the opportunity for food contamination.
Dairy processing facilities must ensure that their fixtures, fittings, equipment and transport vehicles are designed and constructed in a manner that means they can be easily cleaned and, where necessary, sanitised.
Businesses must also ensure that the premises are provided with the necessary services of water, waste disposal, light, ventilation, cleaning and personal hygiene facilities, storage space and access to toilets.
Hygiene & handling
A food handler must take all reasonable measures not to handle food or surfaces likely to come into contact with food in a way that is likely to compromise the safety and suitability of food.
For details see the Food Standards Code, Standard 3.2.2 - Food Safety Practices and General Requirements, clause 3 and the FSANZ guide Safe Food Australia.
Cleaning & sanitation
Dairy processors must implement a documented cleaning schedule that identifies:
- all fixtures, fittings and equipment used in the processing of dairy products
- the frequency of cleaning
- how all fixtures, fittings and equipment are cleaned and sanitised
- how food contact surfaces and utensils are sanitised (where applicable)
- chemical usage (eg. strength, contact times, temperature).
All fixtures, fittings and equipment must be adequate for the production of safe and suitable food, and fit for their intended use.
Routine internal cleaning and sanitation inspections must be undertaken, and records maintained for corrective action taken on any identified issues.
Cleaning chemicals must be suitable for contact with food and used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
Food safety controls
Dairy primary production businesses need to maintain a food safety program.
This is a tailored operating plan for the business which identifies hazards to food safety and how the business will manage them.
For a generic starting template see Food Safety Programs.
Processing of dairy products
Standard 4.2.4 - Primary Production and Processing Standard Dairy explains the requirements for the safe processing of milk and dairy products (Clause 15) and for processing of dairy products to make cheese and cheese products (Clause 16).
A person must not sell a dairy product for human consumption unless the product has been processed in line with these requirements.
They can be summarised as:
- to safety levels any pathogenic micro-organisms that may be present in the raw milk.
Clause 15 and 16 do not apply to:
- a dairy primary production business for the sale of milk or cream to a dairy processing business, or
- a dairy processing business for the sale of a dairy product to another dairy processing business, or
- goats milk, but only if the milk has been produced in compliance with a Food Safety Program (FSP) and (in the case of unpasteurised milk) the milk bears a label with a statement that complies with Clause 2 of Standard 1.2.3 - Mandatory Warning and Advisory Statements and Declarations.
Notification of residue detection for raw milk
Operators in the dairy processing industry that receive raw milk from the farm direct need to advise the Food Authority if they detect antibiotic residue in the raw milk.
For the written notice, complete and lodge: Notification of Residue Detection Form RES001 (WORD).
Equipment used for pasteurising dairy products at a processing business must comply with the requirements of the Guidelines for Food Safety: Validation and Verification of Heat Treatment Equipment and Processes.
The guidelines have been developed by the Australia New Zealand Dairy Authorities' Committee (ANZDAC).
Dairy processing businesses must control Salmonella contamination in dried milk products in keeping with the Australian Manual for Control of Salmonella in the Dairy Industry published by the Australian Dairy Authorities’ Standards Committee.
Dairy processing businesses must control Listeria contamination in keeping with the Australian Manual for Control of Listeria in the Dairy Industry published by the Australian Dairy Authorities’ Standards Committee.
Requirements for product labelling apply, as set out in the Food Standards Code, Chapter 1, Part 1.2 - Labelling and other Information Requirements and the FSANZ labelling user guides.
For an introduction and Food Authority factsheets see labelling
Businesses operating in the dairy processing industry must meet the requirements outlined in the NSW Food Safety Schemes Manual.
The Manual details microbiological testing requirements. Importantly, you should know that:
- Microbiological testing is required to confirm that processing is hygienic and sanitary and required meeting standards
- Testing must involve the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) or a laboratory approved by the Food Authority
- Any analysis is at the licence holder’s expense
- If a sample does not meet the standards set out in the Manual, the licence holder must notify the Food Authority within 24 hours by phone, and within 7 days in writing.
Inspections & audits
Dairy processors will be routinely inspected by the Food Authority for compliance with requirements.
Compliance or regulatory action will be taken if required.
There are fees for audits and inspections, payable by the licence holder.
For more see audits of licensed businesses
Legislation & standards
As an operator in the dairy processing industry, you will also need to meet the requirements set out in:
- Food Act 2003 (NSW)
- Food Regulation 2015 (NSW) including relevant parts of the Dairy Food Safety Scheme
- Food Standards Code
- Standard 1.2.3 - Mandatory Warning and Advisory Statements and Declarations
- Standard 1.4.1 - Contaminants and Natural Toxicants
- Standard 1.4.2 - Maximum Residue Limits
- Standard 2.5.1 - Milk
- Standard 3.2.1 - Food Safety Programs
- Standard 3.2.2 - Food Safety Practices and General Requirements
- Standard 3.2.3 - Food Premises and Equipment
- Standard 4.2.4 - Primary Production and Processing Standard Dairy