The European Union deadline that all U.S. dairy products exported to Europe be certified that they are made with milk with less 400,000 somatic cells/ml has been pushed back to December 1. The original deadline had been earlier this spring, then pushed back to October 1.
U.S. dairy officials are still disputing the mandate, saying somatic cells are a measure of milk quality and not safety. In fact, the National Milk Producers Federation
is requesting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration get involved in the dispute.
Over the past five years, U.S. exporters were able to ship product to the EU as long as they could certify that the products were made from milk from comingled tankers and silos with a cell count below 400,000. However, the EU has been requiring individual European farms meet the 400,000 cell limit since 2004. The new U.S. requirement, put in place after EU officials audited U.S. dairy plants last year, requires individual farms meet the standard.
Details are still being worked out as to how the 400,000 SCC level will actually be measured. The U.S. uses an arithmetic mean; the EU, a geometric mean. It’s also not known how many tests per month must be taken per farm to calculate the average. EU and US officials are scheduled to meet this month to work out the details.