Seventeen U.S. dairy processors, accounting for more than two-thirds (68%) of U.S. milk production, have committed to voluntary best practices for enhanced dairy traceability established by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy®.

“We want the United States to be the global leader in dairy traceability,” said Dermot Carey, senior vice president of the Ingredients Division at Darigold and the chairman of the Innovation Center’s Traceability Subcommittee. “When we announced these traceability standards in September, our ambitious goal was to have 80% of the milk supply covered within a year.

“With commitments from most of the large processors, we’re off to a strong start. But to hit our goal, we need commitments from processors of all sizes,” added Carey. “Enhanced traceability is important because, in the rare event of a safety issue, what happens to one U.S. processor can affect the brands of every U.S. processor, as well as the entire U.S. dairy industry.”

The Innovation Center, established under the leadership of America’s dairy producers through the dairy checkoff program, considers enhanced traceability guidelines a priority not only for improving global competitiveness, but also for supporting customer and consumer confidence. The new guidelines do not affect producers and on-farm practices.

In a food safety crisis, enhanced traceability standards would quickly isolate products to protect public health and prevent brand damage to the broader U.S. dairy industry. 

The 17 dairy processors who have committed to the best practices are:

• Agri-Mark

• Associated Milk Producers Inc.

• California Dairies, Inc.

• Darigold

• Dairy Farmers of America

• Foremost Farms USA

• Glanbia Foods

• Hilmar Cheese Company

• HP Hood

• Land O'Lakes

• Leprino Foods

• Michigan Milk Producers Association

• Select Milk Producers

• Schreiber Foods

• Swiss Valley Farms

• Tillamook

• United Dairymen of Arizona is a page on the Innovation Center’s website offering several traceability resources. Foremost is a full report explaining how processors can implement the practices (49-page PDF). To quickly evaluate if their facilities already meet the enhanced traceability best practices, processors can download a handy, 21-point traceability checklist for processing plants (one-page PDF).

All the resources are based on the Innovation Center’s three pillars of U.S. dairy traceability:

• Modeling physical plants to know where new lots enter and where products transform

• Creating a lot identifying mark that will be recognized and used by customers

• Enhanced record-keeping that will assist in expedient and effective recall capability

When Congress passed the most sweeping reform of food safety laws in more than 70 years (FSMA), it tasked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to create regulations. The FDA, in turn, has asked food industries for input. The traceability guidelines are part of the dairy industry’s response.

“We encourage all processors to make the traceability commitment,” said Edith Wilkin, a subcommittee member and the vice president of food safety and regulatory compliance at Leprino Foods. “Our one year goal is within reach but our ultimate goal is continued safety for people around the world who enjoy U.S. dairy products.”

To learn more about dairy traceability, see the Innovation Center’s traceability section at Processors with questions about making the traceability commitment should contact Vikki Nicholson, a member of the Innovation Center’s Traceability Subcommittee, at or at (703) 469-1522.

The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy® is a forum for the dairy industry to work together pre-competitively to address barriers and opportunities to foster innovation and increase sales. The Innovation Center aligns the collective resources of the industry against common priorities to offer consumers nutritious dairy products and ingredients, and promote the health of people, communities, the planet and the industry. The Board of Directors for the Innovation Center includes dairy industry leaders representing key producer organizations, dairy cooperatives, processors, manufacturers and brands. The Innovation Center is staffed by Dairy Management Inc™. Visit for more information about the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. 

Related: Learn how processors can implement best practices

21-point traceability checklist for processing plants

Source: The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy