As part of continuing studies, agriculture researchers at the University of Kentucky will continue to work on improving food safety in bulk milk transport with additional financial support from the National Institute for Hometown Security (NIHS).
NIHS says it will supply an additional grant of $1.2m, on the back of its initial $1.5m in funding, to provide worldwide commercially available systems for forward and backward traceability between the farmyard and dairy plants.
Researchers says that amidst fears of both potential terrorist attacks on food supplies and existing fears over melamine contamination in some China-sourced food products, the entire dairy industry is under pressure to tighten security.
Though no terrorist attacks on food supply have yet been registered on any national scale in the US, congressman Hal Rogers said that guaranteeing milk supply safety was vital to the nation’s overall health and safety.
“Solutions are needed to shore up the food supply chain from natural or man-made disasters, and providing calculated technology investments are critical to solving the challenges we face in defending America from the next attack,” he stated.
Chris Thompson, milk program coordinator at the University of Kentucky told DairyReporter.com that the industry and tanker manufacturers were all involved with the research.
According to the researchers, the system makes use of a user friendly hand-held device that can be used by a driver to enter various milk ticket information in order to record data on pick up schedules and logistics.
In addition to the hand-held device, the prototype can also make use of a computer processor on tankers to store specific data about the milk it is carrying.
“Other key components on the tanker include a Global Position System unit, locks on the dome lid and rear door, a key pad to enter security codes when the handheld device is not available and temperature sensors for the sample cooler and cargo,” stated the researchers.
Aside from a safety focus, Thompson added that the findings had already led to efficiency improvements, particularly in terms of the already labour intensive process of milk pick up and delivery.
"Development of a highly efficient food defence security system that will facilitate information gathering that can benefit the dairy industry through enhanced efficiency and proactive cost avoidance," he stated. "Automating data collection regarding the farm milk pickup process will save time and labour, while reducing errors commonly associated with paperwork."