Microbial and non microbial contaminants: Their sources and entry points in milk during various stages of production

Introduction: Milk is a natural liquid product that contains almost all the nutrition required for healthy life. The secreted milk in the udder is sterile and later on various extraneous materials get their entry in to it. From the point of production to distribution, there are various points from where milk gets contaminated with different microbial and non microbial substances. Contaminants: Any accidental entry or introduction of foreign material into the milk is called contamination and the foreign materials are called contaminants. The contaminants that are introduced into the milk can be classified under two major categories:
A. Non microbial contaminants B. Microbial contaminants

Various stages of milk production In developing countries like India, the production of milk is generally carried out in villages and unorganized barns. The chances of milk get contaminated at any time is high. The components and stages of milk production can be summarized as follows:
Milk production at farm level Milk in cans Collection in bulk coolers Chilling centers

Milk plants

The incidences of contamination into milk at farm level can be summarized as follows.

I. Milk contamination at farm level
A. Non-microbial contaminants
a) Physical contaminants: Physical contaminants like dirt particles, hair, leaves, rubber and mettle particles, paper pieces etc can get entry in to the milk at the time of milking. The dirt particles from air even, unclean udder or body of the cow, unclean utensils and water supply can contaminate milk. The hair of body of cow or of milk can also fall in the milk. The habits of the milker can also add some harmful contaminants like chewing tobacco, gutkha or beetle leaves can make entry of the physical contaminants into the milk. At the barn, all the activities of the milker should be scrutinized. The cleaning of the milking equipment should be properly done with a reliable and adequate source of water supply. The dairy barns should be maintained regularly and of good condition. The surrounding area of the barn should be kept clean from the waste materials. The milking premises should be free from the cobwebs and accumulation of the dust particles. b) Chemical contaminants: Veterinary, cleaning, contaminate the milk. agricultural and disinfecting chemicals can

i) Veterinary and agricultural chemicals: The milch animal treated with any drug or antibiotic can contaminate milk with the residues of drugs. During milking, these chemicals may also be secreted along with milk. During milking adequate precaution should be taken so as to minimize the risk of getting entry of such chemicals into the milk. Such milks should not contain them more than the safety limit approved by government. Only registered drugs should be used to treat the animal. ii) Pest contaminants: Pest in the milking premises can contaminate milk with their feaces, urine, bedding materials, hair etc. at the time of milking or handling of milk. Therefore, the entry of such birds even the flies should be restricted for entry and residing at the dairy farm premises. iii) Environmental contaminants:

The environment of milking area can make entry of various chemical contaminants into the milk. The disinfectant sprays in the air, chemical substances in the water hypo chlorites, activities of neighboring farms, etc. can be proved to very harmful contaminants. iv) Cleaning and disinfection: In the dairy farm, the equipment and the surroundings are regularly cleaned and sanitized. These activities if not monitored properly can introduce many potential chemical contaminants into milk. Detergents are necessary to clean before disinfection of the equipment for milking purpose. The purpose of the detergents is to remove the dust particles and the milk deposits from the surfaces of milking and ancillary equipments. The disinfectants are used to make the surfaces free from the microorganisms. These chemical substances can become contaminants of milk if not cleaned properly with good quality of water. Sometimes the disinfectants are used with the detergents to improve the efficiency of cleaning. The detergents should be used with the hot water and effective removal of chemicals from the surface of such equipments should also be carried out with hot water.

B. Microbial contaminants
i) Contamination by pathogenic bacteria: The interior of normal udder adds many microorganisms into the milk, i.e., Micrococci, streptococci and some Corynebacterium. These bacteria enter through the teat opening and colonize in the interior of udder. The fore milk contains mot of them, that’s why the fore milk should be excluded during milking. The mastitis causing bacteria get secreted into the milk if udder is infected. The milker can also introduce a large number of microorganisms in the milk, if he/she is not of good health. During machine milking, the cups and the milking machines if not cleaned regularly can contaminate milk with a wide range of microorganisms. The pathogenic bacteria may be introduced into the milk during milking and handling by the following sources: Healthy carrier : Mycobacterium, Brucella animals Animals with mastitis : Staphylococcus, E coli

Man Environment

: :

Staphylococcus sp., Steptococcus sp. Listeria sp.Staphylococcus aureus, Steptococcus, Listeria, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, bovis, Brucella, E. coli

ii) Fecal Contamination: The fecal contamination can introduce many harmful and spoilage causing microorganisms into the milk. These transmissions can be done by the hands of the milkman, by the animal at milking, by the tail and the splashes when the bucket is near the animals. The examples of contaminating bacteria during such incidences are E. coli, Salmonella, Clostridium. iii) Contamination by environmental germs : When milking is carried out in open air psychrotrophes flora (Listeria, Pseudomonas), Enterobacterias, yeast and fungus can contaminate milk. These microorganisms are found in the air of farm and if cleaning or the sweeping of the milking floor has been carried out just before the milking, the number of such microorganisms can be high in the environment. iv) Multiplication of bacteria on milking equipments: Inefficient cleaning and disinfecting of material and/or poor drying lead of accumulation of a high number of microorganisms on the surfaces of such equipments and get entry into the milk. The surfaces of milking and cooling equipment are a main source of milk contamination and frequently the principal cause of consistently high bacterial counts. Simple, inexpensive cleaning and disinfecting routines can virtually eliminate this source of contamination.

II. Milk contamination at collection centers
a) Cross contamination: cleaning and inefficient disinfection of materials. Absence or bad quality control before mixing. b) Human contamination: hand contacts with the milk at the time of sampling and mixing of milk. c) Contamination by environmental germ: use of contaminated water for cleaning purpose.

III. Milk contamination during transport
a) growing of microbial flora: carrying time too long . b) contamination by material: hand contacts with the milk at the time of sampling.

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