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Dairy and Meat Production

Alaska Dairy Program

For questions about the Dairy Program, call 907-375-8200 or explore this web page. You can also contact Dr. Sarah Coburn for more information.

The Office of the State Veterinarian (OSV) manages Alaska’s dairy regulatory program in accordance with the United States Public Health Service/ Food and Drug Administration Grade “A” Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO) to ensure that milk and milk products (milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, butter, etc.) sold into commerce are manufactured, sold, and delivered in a safe and wholesome condition.

A licensed veterinarian oversees the regulatory program for the inspection of animal health and care conditions at the state’s dairy farms, verification of the sanitary condition of the facility and equipment at milk processing plants, and issuance of permits to dairy farms, processing plants, milk haulers, and cheese producers.

While the FDA provides approval of state dairy programs, individual states that desire to have a commercial dairy industry are expected to maintain regulatory dairy programs in accordance with the PMO – there is no federal dairy program in place to support states without one.

Without an FDA-approved state program, commercial dairy operations would be unable to sell products to institutions that receive federal funds to subsidize meal programs (military, schools, prisons, etc.), to sell products interstate, or sell products to national retail chains whose corporate standards require Grade “A” certification (such as Kroger, Walmart, Safeway, etc.). At this time, all 50 states have a state dairy program.

The production and processing of milk is an extremely complex process that requires knowledge of animal health, animal husbandry, food safety and sanitation, the function and operation of milk collection equipment, and an understanding of the mechanical processing of milk products and the operation of the pasteurization equipment.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation’s dairy program includes three primary components, each of which is required under the PMO:

  • Staff at the OSV carry out the responsibilities of the Veterinary Medical Officer and the Dairy Sanitarian, as required by the PMO. An EHO III is designated as the primary Dairy Sanitarian for the state. This position is responsible for doing on-site inspections of the processing plants and the individual farms, testing and validation of pasteurization equipment, and regulatory sample collection of milk and milk products for compliance testing.
  • As the FDA-approved State Central Dairy Laboratory, the Alaska State Environmental Health Laboratory (EHL) performs regulatory testing of milk, milk products, and milk container samples collected by the Dairy Sanitarian during the required inspections. EHL analysts must maintain testing proficiency and each analyst must pass annual FDA third party proficiency tests.
  • The EHL also maintains a third party laboratory approval program, which evaluates and certifies the screening labs located and operated at each dairy facility. Dairy industry screening labs, which perform mandatory analysis on pre- and post- pasteurized milk, must be approved by the EHL Dairy Laboratory Evaluation Officers (LEOs). The LEOs perform technical assistance, prepare industry splits (proficiency samples) annually, travel on-site to review laboratory and analyst practices, and submit reports of observations and recommendations to FDA.

Raw Milk Information

In accordance with 18 AAC 32.060, raw milk can be sold only to a milk processing plant or for animal food. Commercial sales to the general public are prohibited. Unpasteurized milk from a permitted Grade "A" milk producer can be used to make certain aged cheeses.

Reindeer Slaughter and Processing

The OSV oversees the producers and processors of reindeer intended to be sold as part of intrastate commerce for human consumption and ensures the commercial supply of reindeer meat is safe, wholesome, not adulterated, and correctly labeled and packaged.

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