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Back to Symposium 2012

Animal Welfare and Milk Quality

Renée Bergeron Renée Bergeron, PhD, agr.

University of Guelph—Alfred Campus

Whether you’re an agronomist, processor, dietitian, health professional or consumer, the concept of milk quality takes on very different meanings. The notion of food quality has evolved over time due to societal values and concerns, and the quality of food now extends far beyond nutritional value to include things such as health, safety, environmental impact, even the local economy. As a result, animal welfare is increasingly seen as an important attribute of the food quality concept.

To properly assess product quality, we must consider the entire production chain, starting with what is happening at the farm. In the dairy sector, Canadian farmers tackle milk quality challenges on a day-to-day basis by applying a series of practices to optimize the nutritional quality and safety of milk, and to ensure the health and well-being of their herds, all the while protecting the environment. They are committed to standardizing best practices across the dairy sector, which is how the Canadian Quality Milk Program (CQM) came to be. Using the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) approach, the program aims to ensure milk and meat safety on dairy farms by putting measures in place to reduce the risk of chemical, biological or physical contamination.

Where animal welfare is concerned, a national on-farm Animal Care Assessment Program was recently initiated by Dairy Farmers of Canada and the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC). Based on the newly revised Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle, this new program will be developed in consultation with several partners who have an interest in animal welfare.

These quality assurance programs will heighten awareness of best practices for milk quality among dairy producers, while also offering processors, retailers and consumers a guarantee that Canadian milk is produced according to clearly defined high quality standards.

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