As one of New Zealand’s highest exported goods, milk powder is produced on a huge scale.
The process of turning milk to powder may be simple, but stringent hygiene standards must be met to ensure the end product is safe for consumers both young and old.
Late on a recent wet Sunday afternoon we ran out of milk at home, and nobody wanted to rug up and go to the dairy.
Suddenly I remembered the packet of milk powder in the pantry; problem solved.
But while I was reconstituting it for our coffees, I started thinking about the huge technical effort that goes into the production of this product, that is so vital to the New Zealand economy.
New Zealand accounts for over one third of the world’s dairy trade and milk powder is among the country’s highest exported goods. With its long shelf life and the range of powders available, it’s no wonder I found myself transfixed, thinking about how milk powder gets from the factory to the shelf.
This amazing product is reconstituted from its powdered form, to become as delicious and wholesome as a glass of fresh milk. The way that milk powder is manufactured, means it can live in your pantry or emergency kit for up to 24 months – much longer than the milk in the fridge!
A little history on how milk powder came to be
It is said that Marco Polo reported that the Mongolian troops of Kublai khan carried sundried milk. This was more like a paste than a powder, but still the foundations of what would become a wonderfully versatile milk product at that time.
It wasn’t until 1802 when a Russian physician named Osip Krichevsky invented a more modern process for producing milk powder, drying and dehydrating, until it resembled a powder form.
However, it would be a whole 30 years before it was first produced commercially.
Being one of the world’s largest manufacturers of milk powder, New Zealand had their own early methods of production, and used heated rollers to dry out the milk. Spray drying, the modern way to produce milk powder, was discovered in the 1960’s and introduced to New Zealand.
Since then, we’ve been able to manufacture high quantities, and export milk powder to all corners of the world.
What does it take to make a quality milk powder?
This process is relatively simple, yet it is carried out on a huge scale.
Making milk powder involves the gentle removal of water as cost effectively as possible, and under the most stringent hygiene conditions.
The result is a product that retains all the favoured properties of milk, as well as its nutritional value, flavour, colour and solubility. The concentrated milk is then sprayed in a fine mist into hot air, removing more water and producing a fine powder.
100 litres of whole milk will make approximately 13 Kg of whole milk powder (WMP) or 9 Kg of skim milk powder (SMP).
The finished powders are then blended with various additives and used in a huge range of products, including direct consumer use (domestic reconstitution), baked goods, ice cream, baby and infant formula, yoghurts and confectionary.
Strict food safety and hygiene standards essential
When it comes to milk powder, we’re not just talking about the stuff we might have in our coffee. We’re talking about what is considered to be one of life’s necessities to many people; baby and infant formula.
All powder milk suppliers take food safety and hygiene seriously, and have strict protocols around Quality Assurance. These suppliers have very exacting audit requirements, especially those companies in the production of baby and infant formula.
This is a result of possible contamination of these products by Cronobacter Sakazakii, a rare devastating foodborne illness, which mainly affects pre-term or immune-compromised infants, who have been fed on powdered infant formula.
We ensure producers meet highest standards
We have always worked with milk powder producers both primary and specialists, helping with redline cleaning and the application of dairy approved surface treatments.
Our expertise is geared around “dry cleaning” of redline areas, as the presence of milk powder dust in most areas, precludes using normal water or steam based cleaning methods.
We take food safety very seriously and use M.P.I approved chemicals in hot, cold, or steam washes, when cleaning plant surfaces and machinery.
Our antimicrobial services can test for the presence of bacteria and prevent any outbreaks, through approved sanitising chemicals.
All of our equipment is sanitised on leaving a site and again before entering new sites, to give our clients the confidence, that our equipment meets strict hygiene guidelines.
If your plant needs “dry cleaning” whether in the milk powder industry or not, contact Unique Services for the best possible results.