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Milk Pick-Up

Milk is inspected and sampled before it's pumped into insulated, stainless steel tanker trucks and shipped to a dairy processing plant. Each driver is a trained and certified Bulk Tank Milk Grader (BTMG) who is responsible for collecting the milk sample to send for testing.

Quality testing

The Bulk Tank Milk Grader inspects milk for temperature, odour and appearance. Milk is rejected and dumped if it doesn’t pass inspection. The raw milk sample taken before transport is sent to the University of Guelph's Laboratory Services Division for thorough analysis.

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To the dairy processing plant

What started out as raw milk is about to become any one of a number of dairy products. Upon arrival, the milk is tested again for quality assurance.

Processing

All varieties of dairy milk you see in the grocery, such as skim, 1%, 2%, whole milk and cream, start from the same tank of raw milk. The first step is to separate the naturally occurring fat and then add it back in the appropriate amount for each variety.

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Pasteurization

In one of the most important steps of the process, the milk is now brought to a high temperature and cooled down again. This step not only destroys pathogens that can cause illness, it also extends the milk’s shelf life.

Homogenization

You may have heard that the cream rises to the top – this happens because it’s rich with butter fat. Homogenization is the process of breaking up the fat into tiny particles and blending it evenly through the milk. Vitamin D is also added at this stage.

Packaged, sealed and delivered

The milk is now ready to be packaged in cartons and bags. Once the containers are sealed, they’re stacked in cold storage rooms, ready to be delivered to stores in refrigerated trucks. And while there are a lot of steps to the process, it usually takes less than a day from start to finish.

Learn how milk gets from the farm to your table