Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine

Debunking Myths About New Dairy Standards

31/01/2018 - 10:58
News stories

"The EU has banned the Ukrainians from selling milk produced by private households". This and other untrue information is disseminated by a number of state-controlled Russian media and echoed by some local media.

The story goes the dairy products will become more expensive, while the milk from households may not meet the new norms. Milk safety level and grade, however, can be improved and so meet new norms that would ensure more safety to consumers. For this, a number of simple rules should be followed, as it is described in more detail below.
 
Populist arguments say that  people in rural areas will not only be deprived of an additional source of income, but will also have to start slaughtering cows for meat. As a result, they maintain, we will be consuming low-quality imported milk.
 
Many of these fears, as to the consequences of the new dairy norms introduced, were also widespread in Poland, the Czech Republic, the Baltic States when they were introducing similar European requirements, preparing for accessing into the EU. Travelling today in these countries, you can see for yourself that these myths and fears have not come true. Standards improvement does require investments. But Central European farmers have managed to do so without any of such dreadful scenario becoming true. They are instead flourishing today.
 
So what are the changes about,and how the new milk norms will influence Ukrainian consumers and producers?
 
The Ministry of Agricultural Policy has set the introduction of the new milk standards for 1 July 2018. The new standards will improve considerably the milk safety in Ukraine. Their adoption is one of Ukraine's commitments under the Association Agreement.
 
The new norms will be introduced gradually and in the course of two years for the producers to be able to adapt their production.
 
At present, household produced milk often meets only the current 2nd grade norms, due to bad sanitary conditions during milking and storage. The safety level of the so called "home" milk, however, can be improved. For this, milking should be done with washed hands and in clean clothes. Clean containers and milking equipment should be used. Milk should also be stored at a temperature below 100С.
 
Sick animals have to be treated. After antibiotics have been used, one should wait until their residue is removed from the animal organism. This is a standard practice in all countries of the world. Antibiotic residues that get from milk to the human organism strengthen antibiotic resistance and can therefore have a detrimental effect on our health.
 
These measures do not require considerable costs. Moreover, the Ukrainian State may reimburse 20% of costs for the purchase of new equipment necessary to meet the new standards. This will make milk safer, which is what is expected and deserved by consumers.
 
Farmers will benefit as well:  higher grade milk can be sold at a higher price.
 
They can unite into cooperatives. Together, it will be easier and cheaper to take these measures and to raise the milk grade. Funds will also be relieved for developing the infrastructure to deliver the product to the processing factories. For 2018, the Government of Ukraine allocated 1 bln UAH to the development of small farms to achieve also these objectives.
 
The new standards will better protect consumers. Due to them, we will be drinking safe milk from healthy cows. The risk of poisoning will be minimised.
 
Improved milk safety will not mean change in quality. On the contrary, thanks to the new norms, you, as a consumer, can be sure that any milk you find at the supermarket will not harm your health.
 
Today, in Ukraine only the extra grade milk meets EU high safety standards (see the table below). As an example, the allowed number of microorganisms in the 1st grade milk is five times higher than in the EU. The somatic cells level is also 200,000 by cm3 higher than in the EU.
 
The somatic cells number shows whether the cow that provided milk was healthy. Infections and disease agents may pass from a cow to consumers.
 
For the higher grade, the micro-organisms level is still three times higher than in the EU.
 
According to the planned changes, the use of 2nd grade milk for food products manufacturing will be limited upon the expiry of the transitional period, but it will still be allowed for fodder and casein production (see the table below). For  1st grade milk, the somatic cells level will be decreased, though the new norm will still be much higher than it is allowed in the EU (500,000 instead of 400,000 per cm3).
 
1st and extra grade milk norms will remain unchanged.
 
As a result, once the new standards will be adopted, only the extra grade milk will fully meet the EU norms. In Ukraine, in the period from January to October 2017, the share of such milk received from the agricultural companies has increased to 15%. The Ukrainian Milk Producers Association already demands from its members to produce only extra grade milk by 2022.
 
The 2nd grade milk will not necessarily disappear. It will be possible to have it additionally processed at  milk factories. Its nutrition value, however, will decrease considerably. This milk will be restricted gradually over the transitional period. But even afterwards, such milk can still be used for fodder and casein production.
 
Many retailers and shopping centres establish their own private milk standards to avoid poisoning among consumers and to protect their reputation. This is a standard practice all over the world. These norms, however, have nothing to do with the requirements set in the EU.
 
Today Ukraine adapts its food safety system to the market economy realities. The previous Soviet approaches do not seem to work anymore. Now it is the businessmen, and not the state, that shall define and minimise the potential hazardous factors and risks of the production process and capacities Authorities in Kyiv wishes to bring such system close to the one functioning in the EU and other developed countries, in line with provisions contained in the Association Agreement, that will also allow Ukrainian milk to get better access to the EU market. In addition, control takes place at all stages of the food chain: from production and transportation to storage and sale at a supermarket.
 

 

Regulation (EC) No 853/2004


Draft of new public standard DSTU 3662:2015, milk grades

 

Old public standard DSTU 3662-97, milk grades


raw cows’ milk
 

extra

high

first

 extra 

  high 

 first  

 second 


Plate count (thousand per ml)  
 

≤100

≤100

≤300

≤500

 ≤100 

 ≤300  

≤500

≤3000


Somatic cell count (thousand per ml)
 

≤400

≤400

≤400

≤500

 ≤400  

≤400

≤600

≤800

 
Editorial Sections: