How to do rapid milk hygiene tests at the dairy?

4. Dec, 2017
By Richard Mills,
It’s a world’s first: a new fully-automated way to check the hygienic-quality of raw milk as it arrives at the dairy is available.

It sounds like an obvious thing to do, but checking the hygienic quality of milk before it flows into the processing plant is actually quite a difficult and time-consuming task. 


If you choose the traditional method, it takes about two days to get to a result. Alternatively, you can invest in some semi-automated analytical equipment solutions, which, while much faster, still involve unwanted handling of chemical reagents. 


“Can’t we get an easy, fully- automated method?” This was the very reasonable request that FOSS engineers and scientists knuckled down to address. The result is the new BacSomatic: a small instrument delivering results for two key milk hygiene indicators - bacteria count and somatic cell count.  It delivers results within ten minutes and no chemical reagent handling is involved – just place the sample and press start. 


Not to take anything away from the design team, but they did have a good head start in the form of some existing analytical technology to be found at the many milk testing laboratories around the world.

Fossomatic 7
BactoScan FC


Here you can see two big instruments called the BactoScan and Fossomatic instruments working away handling literally thousands of samples every day. The design team set out to shrink them down to a handier and cheaper format for a dairy needing around fifty or so tests a day to check incoming milk deliveries. And, while they were doing it, they decided to find a way to deliver both hygiene indicators in one go in one instrument.  






Measuring just 40 x 40 x 40cm, the new BacSomatic uses the same flow cytometry technology employed in the large fully automated instruments, but with a design aimed at the lower throughput needs of dairies. 


A test for bacteria count and somatic cell count takes less than ten minutes allowing users to check raw milk deliveries arriving each day in tanker trucks. The test for bacteria count helps to head-off problems with, to mention just a couple of examples, low shelf-life of drinking milk and bad tasting butter. The somatic cell count test is particularly useful for indicating the suitability of milk for production of cheese and fermented products. 


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