The Dutch dairy industry continually monitors the purity and safety of milk and dairy products, taking account of a large number of risk factors. The Quality Programme for Agricultural Products (KAP) deals only with the residues and contaminants covered by the dairy industry’s monitoring programmes: organochlorine chemicals, PCBs and aflatoxin.
The Netherlands Controlling Authority for Milk and Milk
The Netherlands Controlling Authority for Milk and Milk Products (Centraal Orgaan voor Kwaliteitsaangelegenheden in de Zuivel, COKZ) has been studying these chemicals for many years. The COKZ has a Sterlab certificate for sampling and laboratory research. The monitoring programme is carried out using samples of milk and dairy products. The monitoring of organochlorine compounds has revealed a very favourable picture for some years.
PCBs and organochlorine compounds
Residues of PCBs and organochlorine compounds are now scarcely ever found. Naturally this is because the application of most of these chemicals has now been forbidden and they are no longer entering the environment. Pollutants that are still found locally in the environment in trace quantities also seem to have almost disappeared. Only lindane is still authorised as an ectoparasiticide in non-lactating livestock in various European countries, but the residue situation for this chemical is also favourable.
The level of PCBs in dairy products is also clearly declining. Although the levels are well under the limit, continuing surveillance remains important. Despite the European ban on most harmful forms of use of these chemicals there is still some risk of environmental pollution. The fact that some PCB congeners have characteristics similar to those of dioxins has received attention.
Aflatoxin, a toxin produced by moulds that can enter the milk via animal feeds, has been under good control in the Netherlands since 1989. The aflatoxin covenant, which was agreed in 1989 between the animal feed sector, the dairy industry and the dairy farmers, has played a crucial role in this. Aflatoxin B1 occurs mainly in raw materials for animal feeds coming from countries with a damp and warm climate. The dairy sector has an interest in the continual monitoring of animal feeds.
Research has shown that the carcinogenic aflatoxin B1 largely disappears when it is digested by the animal. However a few percent of the intake is found in the milk in the form of the somewhat less toxic aflatoxin M1. The levels are well under the legal limit. At the same time, this limit is being discussed in the Codex and could be increased as a result. However the management of the formation of aflatoxin in products such as peanuts, coconut forage, nuts and maize continues to be mainly a matter of giving continuous attention to protecting crops in tropical and subtropical areas from moulds.