Rework Practices Used During Milk Processing: An Industry Survey
Rework is a common practice in the dairy industry for processors to minimize waste while recovering costs from products that are unsaleable. Regulations related to reworking fluid dairy products are focused on product safety; however, rework in the fluid milk industry and its implications for product quality have not been previously investigated. Our objectives were to characterize current industry practices for reworking fluid dairy products and identify scenarios that could contribute to reduced product quality, particularly microbial spoilage. Seven commercial fluid milk processors from the Pacific Northwest were interviewed regarding their rework handling practices. Processors used various terms (rework, reclaim, and rerun) to describe specific product recovery, storage, and reprocessing procedures. Processors reported nine typical rework motivations, with reclaim and packaging problems the most common; however, rework also played an important role in handling special circumstances. Milk products were reworked as soon as 3 days after production up to the code date (21 days) at dilution rates of ≤20% rework to ≥80% fresh product. Rework conditions with the potential to influence product quality or shelf life of milk products were identified.
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