Raw milk bacterial testing before it leaves the farm

December 24, 2022

Raw milk is clean by default. If something has gone wrong, foreign bodies like microbes and other unexpected material like dirt can enter into the milk and cause problems for vulnerable populations.

Problems can stem from a sick cow or an unclean udder. Contaminants can also enter the milk through unclean or unmaintained equipment and facilities.

Barring the rustic 500 year old bucket milked in a 1000 year old barn, which is a unique and very artisan situation, all food production equipment and facilities should be totally clean.

Part of the job is making sure cleanliness is planned and organized for success from the beginning. When you go to the store or farm and purchase raw milk, you expect it to be clean.

One way to make sure that raw milk is clean before it hits the shelves is to test it on-site before it leaves the farm.

Raw Milk Institute training

In 2019, I visited one of Mark McAfee’s RAWMI training session in Washington state and found it all very reasonable. The essentials were: serviceable stainless steel equipment, establishing effective full-tear-down sanitation protocols, and on-site raw milk testing.

One thing that stuck with me was Mark McAfee’s saying “no surprises.”

Going through the trouble of testing your raw milk comes with one key benefit: reducing the possibility of a recall down to zero or (for statistical sake) near-zero. Raw milk purity becomes predictable.

No one wants to get anyone sick. No farmer wants to go through a recall. Testing gives you a heads up if something went wrong that may lead to a recall.

Raw milk on-site testing video

The Raw Milk Institute has put together this video demonstration to show us how you can test your raw milk for bacterial counts before it leaves the farm.

Video overview:

  • Materials needed for on-farm lab testing
  • How to perform on-farm lab testing of raw milk using Charm Sciences peel plates
  • How to interpret the results

From the Raw Milk Institute:

Set-up costs for on-farm labs are in the range of $800-$1,000. After the initial set-up costs, raw milk testing costs are only $1-$3 for each test performed in the on-farm lab.

Here’s a link to the video: On-Farm Raw Milk Testing with Charm Sciences Peel Plates

Further reading from RAWMI: On-Farm Lab Testing for Raw Milk Farmers

Studies from the Raw Milk Institute

From the RAWMI website:

This method works well and has been documented to lead to a significant reduction in raw milk-related illnesses and outbreaks. Researchers who have studied the safety of raw milk produced with the RAWMI Method have concluded that “raw milk can be produced with a high level of hygiene and safety.”

Visit the Raw Milk Institute website for more info on RAWMI’s raw milk training and educational opportunities.

Get Raw Milk

GetRawMilk.com is an independent project, unaffiliated with RAWMI but big fans of their work. This website’s purpose is to help us find raw milk worldwide. You can read about the project and find ways to support GetRawMilk.com here at Support Get Raw Milk.




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