On this Page:
The FDA's Cooperative Milk Safety Program aims to provide assistance to State and Local Regulatory Agencies in the prevention of communicable diseases and in the implementation and enforcement of their milk regulations, and to advise states on matters relating to the preservation and improvement of public health as it relates to the production and distribution of Grade "A" milk and milk products for human consumption.
Questions regarding the Milk Safety Program and how OP can assist you?
Contact Belinda Clifton.
Under this program FDA is responsible for:
- Promoting the adoption, implementation and enforcement of regulatory standards as provided in the Model Grade A Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO)
- Standardizing and certification of State and Local Regulatory personnel
- Quarterly publication of compliance and enforcement ratings
- State and Local Regulatory personnel training
- Assistance to laboratory personnel, industry, and academia
- Check-ratings and single-service audits for sanitation compliance of listed shippers
- Evaluation and approval of milk laboratories
- The biennial evaluation of state milk control programs
The FDA State Cooperative Milk Safety Program was established under a MOU, signed in 1977, between the FDA Commissioner and the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments (NCIMS). This MOU delineates both FDA's and the States' responsibilities as listed in the "Procedures Governing the Cooperative State-Public Health Service/Food and Drug Administration Program for Certification of Interstate Milk Shippers" and the various documents referenced in it. The NCIMS and FDA assure uniformity through this MOU with the adoption and uniform enforcement of a model ordinance called the Grade “A” Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO). All states, plus Puerto Rico, in addition, some countries such as Canada, Colombia, and Mexico are members of the NCIMS, and follow the PMO or equivalent regulations. The NCIMS fosters and promotes Grade “A” milk and milk products sanitation through the cooperation of state agencies, federal agencies, industry and the academic community.
The program is a three tiered process implemented to dairy farms, milk processing plants and single-service manufacturing facilities. Oversight has been provided for Grade "A" milk and milk products through the NCIMS for more than fifty years. This partnership has resulted in the establishment of a viable and effective certification and enforcement program which has been of significant benefit to consumers.
The FDA/NCIMS program does not cover non-Grade “A” or non-IMS listed products in Grade “A”/NCIMS facilities (ice cream mix, some cottage cheeses, fruit drinks, juices, etc.). Neither does the FDA/NCIMS program cover non-Grade “A” or non-IMS processing facilities (butter, cheeses, ice cream, filled milk, manufactured dairy powders, frozen desserts, etc.). However these milk and milk products are typically included in State regulations along with those which govern Grade “A” facilities and are routinely inspected by the State, Local, and territorial regulatory agencies.
For this reason, Southwest Region (SWR) Milk Specialists (RMSs) submitted a proposal in 1994 to the Regional Food and Drug Director (RFDD) for the development of "Partnerships" with regional states to share oversight of all regulated dairy manufacturing firms. The proposal was accepted, and the State Cooperative Program Team (SCPT) developed and implemented a long-term partnership agreement between FDA and the Arkansas Department of Health, the Colorado Department of Public Health, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Kansas State Department of Agriculture, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the Missouri Milk Board, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, the Texas Department of Health, the Utah Department of Agriculture and the Wyoming Department of Agriculture.
The Partnership Agreement proposal focused on the following goals:
- Provide for the safety and wholesomeness of dairy and food products to the consumer.
- Provide a specialized FDA presence that had not previously been available in regulated firms.
- Provide oversight, training, and direction that had not previously been available to state regulatory inspection programs.
- Capture data for state inspections, sampling, regulatory actions, and state resources for the FDA FACTS Data System that had not previously been available.
- Fulfill the agency full time employee (FTEs) responsibilities to inspect, sample, and provide compliance oversight to these regulated industries.
Due to the success of the Partnership Agreements in the SWR, the Pacific Region established a similar partnership with the California Department of Agriculture in 2009. These Partnership Agreements have successfully demonstrated that the states can assume full responsibility for inspection of the states' dairy manufacturing industry when FDA provides the training needed to maintain the technical skills of state and local regulatory personnel. The partnership has also eliminated duplication of effort by FDA and greatly enhanced overall communication and cooperation between these State agencies and FDA.
These Partnership Agreements have successfully demonstrated that the state can assume full responsibility for inspection of the states' dairy manufacturing industry when FDA provides the training needed to maintain the technical skills of state and local regulatory personnel. The partnership has also eliminated duplication of effort and greatly enhanced overall communication and cooperation between these State agencies and FDA.
Regional Milk Safety Specialist Resources:
- Regional Milk Safety Program Webpages:
Milk Safety Program Policy, Guidance and other Resources:
***CFSAN's Milk Safety Webpage***: This webpage (maintained by CFSAN) contains numerous critical resources for the Milk Safety Program, including:
- Interstate Milk Shippers List
- Interstate Milk Shippers List Directory (CFSAN, ORA Regional Specialists, State, Third Party Certifiers)
- NCIMS Model Documents (to include current and past PMO)
- Milk Safety and Raw Milk
- Dairy Grade A Voluntary HACCP
- Consumer Information about Milk Safety
- Milk Cooperative Program Training Curriculum for States (ORAU)
- Cooperative Programs State Training Course Listing (ORAU)
- Directory of State and Local Officials (DSLO)