Dairy Standard Agency: Striving for quality dairy products backed by science

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One of the most important challenges facing milk producers and processors on a daily basis is managing risks that are detrimental to the quality of milk. This could relate, amongst others, to issues such as incorrect teat preparation, intramammary infections and ineffective cleaning and maintenance. This is often due to substandard teat preparation, inadequate plant cleaning and intramammary infections. Quality assurance up- and downstream the dairy value chain is vital for a safe and sustainable industry.

The Dairy Standard Agency (DSA) strives to promote the quality of various dairy products to benefit both the industry and the consumer. The DSA, which functions as a non-profit company, serves as an objective organisation which performs its functions on the basis of science and a unified approach.

The DSA is overseen by a board of directors who are both qualified and eligible, and have no commercial interest in pursuing the primary or secondary dairy industry. An established technical committee made up of expert scientists is responsible for tackling matters overseen by the DSA. To ensure the alignment of project activities, the DSA has also established an enterprise risk management programme.

A strategic approach

Jompie Burger, managing director of the DSA, explains that they take a calculated approach to the execution of their objectives, which are contained in its Memorandum of Incorporation. The DSA’s ventures, influenced by its mandate, include observing the quality of dairy products, establishing communication with the industry and stakeholders, as well as providing support services to the dairy industry and stakeholders.

Numerous factors can influence the dairy market. These factors incorporate market forces, the power of social media and customer awareness. However, the DSA’s current successes and good standing are a result of their strategic approach and support to Milk SA towards increasing the market for various dairy related products and growing the international competitiveness of the South African dairy industry through quality products.

Role of science

Burger reiterates the fact that the DSA utilises scientific expertise to pinpoint and address possible quality issues. “The science behind the advancement of quality of dairy products is constantly changing and adapting,” he says. “Hence, it is vital for the dairy industry to remain sustainable – it is futile to invest in new dairy technologies to support dairy production and food security, if quality is not going to be upheld. The main aim of the DSA is, after all, to promote the improvement of quality of milk and other dairy products in the interest of the dairy industry and the consumer.”

In this respect, he explains, it is key that the DSA takes note of and contributes to the development of national and international legal and voluntary standards of dairy products. These standards ensure effective production and manufacturing levels.

In addition to the activities referred to above, the DSA also attends to aspects such as constant growth and continuity as well as coherent management, and practical relationships with governmental and parastatal institutions To promote compliance with legal standards.

Its mandate also includes the surveillance of dairy product quality in conjunction with municipal health authorities and the retail, along with individualised contact with processors so as to assist in resolving quality issues that may lead to non-compliance with legal standards. This includes identifying potential food product quality (including safety) violations and implementing countermeasures to guarantee legal compliance.

These ventures also include inspiring change, which is done by assisting emerging dairy producers to comply with legal standards relating to facilities, environmental health, food safety, metrology, and product composition.

A multi-dimensional approach

Besides its involvement in Milk SA projects, the DSA is very proud of its in-house chemical and microbiological laboratory, DSA Lab Services, and the number of publications issued on the DSA umbrella. These include, among others, the Code of Practice for Milk Producers which is revised and re-issued on a regular basis. The laboratory service, publications, involvement in projects and a series of dairy related technical workshops, are all part of the DSA’s drive to successfully execute its mandate.

Sustainability is a vital part of the South African dairy industry.

Its efforts to promote the improvement of dairy quality demand a multi-dimensional approach and ultimately aim to create an understanding of the various elements of the dairy chain value, such as research, and contributing to the development of standards, legal compliance, and quality and food safety.

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“A solid scientific approach is needed to effectively address quality challenges,” says Burger. “This is what the DSA is all about: focussing on the execution of scientifically based initiative-taking measures rather than reactive responses which can lead to poor risk mitigation.” – Tiaan Nel, Plaas Media

For more information, visit the website at www.dairystandard.co.za or phone 012 664 4250.