Interpretative Guidelines for the production sector

Easy-to-understand explanations of the National Dairy Code for producers. This section also contains simple tips and suggestions.


The National Dairy Code is a national, technical reference document (not to be interpreted as regulations) that provides guidance to governing bodies, owners and employees to produce safe and suitable dairy products. It provides requirements for milk production and transportation as well as processing of dairy products to promote safe practices and sound management.

All government jurisdictions are encouraged to review and utilize the National Dairy Code as guidance in the development and revision of their applicable legislation. Since its inception, the Code has served as a national regulatory template for milk production requirements for foreign country audits as well as in Canada's equivalency discussions with the USA, the EU and other foreign country governments.

National Dairy Code - Part I

Amended May 2014 - 3rd edition


The Canadian Food Inspection System (CFIS) was created in 1994 for the development of national food safety codes. This was a collaborative process between federal, provincial and territorial governments. The objectives of CFIS are to facilitate harmonization, streamline the inspection process, reduce pressures on industry and provide a system that is flexible, responsive and timely. Working committees have been established to develop model regulations and Codes. The National Dairy Code was completed by governments, industry and other dairy stakeholders in 1997 and has been amended six times as of September 2013. Regular review and revisions of the Code are proposed by an active dairy stakeholder committee to strive for continuous improvement as newer knowledge and technologies become available.

Short Title

1. This Document may be cited as the National Dairy Code - 1997, September 2013.


2. In this Code,

"automatic milking system (AMS)" is a milking system that does not require an individual to conduct the actual milking of the animals. Also known as a robotic milking system;

"bulk milk grader" means a person authorized by the Regulatory Authority to perform the duties of a bulk milk grader as described in this Code and who holds a Bulk Milk Grader's Permit, Certificate, or Licence;

"bulk milk grader's permit, certificate or licence" means a permit, certificate or licence issued by a Regulatory Authority for the performance of duties as a bulk milk grader as described in this Code;

"dairy animal" means cows, goats and sheep and such other species, as may be kept for the purposes of milking;

"dairy barn" means a barn in which feeding and holding areas are used in conjunction with a milking system (tie-stall, milking parlour or automatic milking system);

"dairy farm" means a farm where dairy animals are kept for milking and from which milk is marketed or sold for human consumption, and includes all buildings, yards and premises occupied or used in connection with the production of milk;

"dairy plant" means a premises, building or structure, where milk is received and/or dairy products are prepared;

"dairy plant process worker" means a person who engages in activities, duties and functions governed by Part II of this Code;

"free stall barn" means a building with alleyways and individual stalls where dairy animals are housed and have free access to stalls;

"inhibitor" means any substance, other than a bacterial culture, that does not occur naturally in milk and inhibits the growth of bacteria in milk;

"loose housing barn" means a structure with a minimum of three walls and a roof that contains no stalls;

"milk" means a normal lacteal secretion free of colostrum obtained from the mammary gland of a dairy animal;

"milk house" means a building or structure where

  1. milk is cooled and/or stored; and
  2. milking equipment is cleaned, sanitized, and stored;

"milk marketing agency" means a provincial or territorial agency or other such organization or entity, as is defined by the legislation applicable in each province or territory, that has the legislative authority with respect to the marketing of milk;

"milk parlour" means an enclosed area or structure where milking occurs but where no animals are housed;

"milking area" means a segregated area within a dairy barn where animals are milked;

"producer" means a person who markets or sells milk that has been produced by a herd of dairy animals owned or controlled by the producer;

"raw milk" means milk that has not been heated beyond 40°C or undergone any treatment that has an equivalent effect;

"Regulatory Authority" means an organization or a government, minister or authority, of the federal, provincial or territorial government that is responsible for the administration and enforcement of regulations related to the contents of this Code;

"sale" includes trade, or barter;

"transfer depot" means a building or shelter where milk is transferred from one transport vehicle to another or from one vehicle to a silo;

"transport vehicle" means a vehicle used for the transport of milk and includes a bulk milk truck.


3. This Code applies to all dairy farms, dairy plants, dairy process workers, producers and their personnel, bulk milk graders, and owners and operators of transport vehicles.



Construction, Arrangement and Operation of Production Establishments

4. The areas and yards surrounding a dairy barn and milk house shall be

  1. configured and maintained in a manner that will not contribute to contamination of milk;
  2. kept free of refuse and animal and vegetable wastes; and
  3. well drained.

5. In order to permit passage by a transport vehicle, the driveway to a milk house shall be maintained by the producer so that it is

  1. accessible in all weather conditions; and
  2. free of animals, animal waste, locked gates and other obstacles.
Dairy Barn

6. A dairy barn shall be

  1. provided with a water source having non-detectable levels of Escherichia coli bacteria per 100 ml. for milking operations; and
  2. constructed and ventilated so as to prevent freezing, water condensation and the accumulation of odours.



Milking Parlour


Milk House







16. In addition to the cooling requirements specified in 15(1) and 15(2) sheep milk may be stored in frozen storage.

Milk Handling Equipment

17. All equipment used for the purpose of collecting, cooling, holding, storing and transferring milk shall

  1. be used only for that purpose;
  2. be maintained in working order; and
  3. have surfaces that come into contact with milk which are,
    1. constructed of non-corrodible materials;
    2. smooth and free of cavities, open seams and loose particles;
    3. non-toxic and resistant to damage from cleansers and sanitizers;
    4. unaffected by milk and which do not adversely affect the quality of the milk.


18. The premises, materials and equipment of the dairy barn, milking parlour and milkhouse shall be kept clean and maintained in good repair and operationalcondition.



21. The person who is conducting a milking operation shall, immediately after removing the milking machine, sanitize the teats with a teat dip solution approved for that purpose under the Food and Drugs Act (Canada).

22. Bedding shall not be changed or disturbed while milking is performed in the dairy milking barn.


24. All milk shall be filtered prior to storage.

25. Where more than one dairy species are milked in the same operation, milking, collection, storage and transfer equipment shall be operated in a manner that prevents mixing of the milk between dairy animal species.

26. Equipment that comes into contact with the milk during milking shall

  1. be rinsed, washed, rinsed and drained within one hour after use;
  2. when not in use, be stored in a manner that prevents contamination; and
  3. be sanitized and drained immediately before use.

27. A producer shall have procedures for the milking equipment sanitation program accessible in the milk house and ensure that they are followed.

28. A person shall only use a cleaning agent, sanitizer or pesticide that meets the standards established by the Food and Drugs Act or the Pest Control Products Act or that is in the reference listing of accepted construction materials, packaging materials and non-food chemical products published by the CFIA and available through the Internet (

29. All detergents, sanitizers, insecticides, pesticides and other pest control products shall be kept in their original labeled containers or kept in containers that are labeled to ensure easy identification of the type of products that they contain.


30. A dairy barn shall be used only to house dairy animals being kept for the purposes of milking. Bovine, caprine and equine animals may be housed in the dairy barn provided they are housed in a separate area according to their species.

31. No producer shall sell or offer for sale milk that is obtained from an animal that shows evidence or visible signs of disease transmissible to humans by milk or that adversely affects the quality or flavour of the milk.

32. Dairy ewes shall be kept in separate closed sections when other dairy species are maintained in the same operation.

33. Only drugs or products approved for administration to dairy animals under the Food and Drugs Act (Canada), the Feeds Act (Canada), the Pest Control Products Act (Canada), the Canada Agricultural Products Act and any applicable provincial legislation, may be administered to a dairy animal. Medicatons, drugs and products must be administered as prescribed by a veterinarian or if the medication is authorized for sale without a prescription, it must be administered as directed bye the manufacturer's instructions on the label.

34. A producer shall clearly identify treated dairy animals that require milk to be withheld and maintain a record of all veterinary drug use.

35. Calves shall be kept in separate pens or box stalls when housed in the same facility as the milking herd.


36. Any person who performs the duties of a bulk milk grader under this Code shall have completed and passed a training program designed specifically for that purpose, and approved by the Regulatory Authority.

37. A person who grades or collects milk, operates a bulk milk truck or bulk milk transfer depot, or performs other duties related to the grading, or transporting of milk must be authorized to do so by a Regulatory Authority.

38. A bulk milk grader shall

  1. wear clean clothing while performing any activities, duties or functions under this Code;
  2. wear a waterproof dressing over any open lesion that prevents contamination of the milk;
  3. not enter the animal housing areas.

39. A bulk milk grader shall not transfer milk from a bulk milk tank where

  1. the milk in the tank has been placed under detention by the Regulatory Authority; or
  2. the producer has been prohibited from shipping milk by the Regulatory Authority.

40. A bulk milk grader, when collecting milk from the bulk milk tank, shall

  1. use the hose port;
  2. ensure that their hands are clean before handling or touching equipment;
  3. accept or reject the milk contained in the bulk milk tank on the basis of its appearance, odour, temperature or other abnormalities;
  4. measure the volume of milk contained in the producer's bulk milk tank;
  5. draw a representative sample of milk
    1. by means of the mechanical sampler on the bulk milk truck; or
    2. directly from the producer's bulk milk tank; using a pipette, sanitized dipper rinsed in the milk prior to sampling or other sanitary sampling device; following agitation of the milk contained in the tank for at least 5 minutes or as otherwise authorized by the Regulatory Authority to assure uniformity of the milk; or
    3. as otherwise prescribed by the Regulatory Authority;
  6. draw a sample of milk, on a monthly basis or more often as prescribed by the Regulatory Authority, in an aseptic manner following agitation of the milk contained in the tank for 5 minutes or as long as is necessary to assure homogeneity of the milk;
  7. maintain all samples at a temperature greater than 0°C and less than or equal to 4°C and deliver them to the responsible person at the processing plant or other designated area;
  8. record on a collection report all information required by the processing plant, Regulatory Authority or milk marketing agency; and
  9. following transfer of the milk to the bulk milk truck, disconnect the hose, and rinse the interior surfaces of the bulk milk tank with lukewarm or cold water.


Transport Vehicles

42. Bulk milk trucks shall be used exclusively for the transportation of milk, dairy byproducts or potable water unless otherwise authorized by the Regulatory Authority.

43. A vehicle used to transport milk in containers must be equipped to protect the milk and the containers against any source of contamination. It must also be capable of preventing the temperature of milk from rising above 6°C until it is delivered to the dairy plant.



Milk Transfer

46. Transfer depots shall

  1. be constructed and maintained to prevent risk of contamination to the milk during the transfer process;
  2. provide hot and cold pressurized water having non-detectable levels of Escherichia Coli bacteria per 100 ml. to permit the proper sanitizing of the bulk milk truck and equipment;
  3. provide sanitary storage space for equipment used in the transfer of milk; and
  4. be maintained free of pests.

47. Pesticides, sanitizers and any other prkoducts used in the operation of a transfer depot shall be used and stored in a manner that will not cause contamination of the milk or milk transfer equipment.

48. Milk transfers shall only take place in an approved transfer depot or a dairy plant unless authorized by the Regulatory Authority.

49. Transfers of milk from one bulk milk truck to another shall be conducted using a hose connected to a truck valve at both ends.


50. Raw milk must meet the standards set out in Table 1.

51. Only approved validated methods which conform to the handling, procedural, and quality control parameters described in the most recently published "Standard Methods for the Examination of Dairy Products" approved by the American Public Health Association, the "Official Methods of Analysis of the Association of Official Analytical Chemists", any method recognized by the International Dairy Federation/International Standards Organization (ISO), or any other method approved by the Regulatory Authority shall be used for the analysis of milk.

52. Milk shall not be sold that

  1. comes from an animal 15 days prior to and 3 days after parturition, or such longer period that is necessary to assure that the milk is free of colostrum;
  2. contains blood or other foreign particles;
  3. is watery or coagulated;
  4. has odours that adversely affect its organoleptic characteristics;
  5. is contaminated by chemical, toxin, drug or any other foreign substance.


54. A producer whose milk has been found to contain veterinary drug residues or inhibitory substance residues is not permitted to sell or supply milk until a subsequent bulk milk sample taken from the farm bulk milk tank tests negative.


Parameter Standard
Temperature Greater than 0°C and less than or equal to 4°C for milk contained in the bulk milk tank (subject to sections 15.1 and 15.2).
Bacteria count Maximum 50,000 cfu per ml. total living mesophilic aerobic bacteria per ml. or 121,000 Individual Bacterial Count per ml. (i.e. Bactoscan®) for cow's milk.
Somatic cells Cow's milk: maximum 400,000 somatic cells per ml.
Goat's milk: maximum 1,500,000 somatic cells per ml.
Veterinary drug residues Negative for the presence of veterinary drug residues and inhibitory substance residues as tested by an approved screening method or testing below the MRL by an approved quantitative method.
Cryoscopy Maximum: ­0.525°Hortvet or (­0.507°C) for cow's milk.
Maximum: ­0.564°Hortvet or (­0.545°C) for goat's milk.

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