Department of Agriculture and Markets

Dairy Inspection Program

The Department of Agriculture and Markets regulates the dairy industry and monitors the safety of dairy products made or offered for sale in New York State. The Department performs periodic inspections of the State’s 261 dairy processing plants to determine whether the plants are in compliance with State and Federal sanitary requirements. The Department also takes product samples from the plants and performs laboratory tests to determine whether the samples comply with sanitary standards.

We found that dairy processing plants are generally inspected as required. However, more appropriate actions need to be taken by the Department when plants repeatedly fail to comply with sanitary requirements. For example, when we analyzed inspection results at 20 randomly selected plants, we found that the same violation was repeated in consecutive inspections at 17 of the plants. We identified a total of 339 repeat violations at these 17 plants, an average of nearly 20 repeat violations per plant during the three-year period. A total of 51 of the repeat violations (at seven of the plants) were classified as major – the most serious designation given by the Department. We further determined that samples from these seven plants failed laboratory tests at about the same time as the major repeat violations were identified. However, the 20 plants in our random sample were rarely fined, and in no instance was an operating permit suspended or the related food products confiscated to prevent their sale to the public. The plants generally were re-inspected within 30 days to ensure that corrective actions had been taken, but stronger actions may be needed to bring persistently noncompliant plants into compliance with sanitary requirements.

For a complete copy of Report 2004-S-77 click here.
For a copy of the 90-day response click here.