During a disease outbreak, milk haulers, and their procedures, are an important piece of ensuring milk can be safely moved from the farm without spreading disease through shared equipment, or people and vehicles moving on and off farms. The goals of these biosecurity standards are to:

  • Prevent the spread of disease from farm to farm;
  • Prevent the contamination of environmental areas;
  • Maintain milk collection systems that meet other food safety regulatory requirements; and
  • Ensure milk movements can be monitored and tracked.

Being Biosecure: Preventing the Spread of Disease

Because they move from farm to farm, haulers must act in a manner designed to prevent spread of disease. On a general level, haulers need to strive to do the following:

  • Be Clean: ensure clothing and equipment are clean, discard waste appropriately, and avoid contamination with manure or other animal fluids (such as blood, urine, mucus, or saliva) in the environment.
  • Be Aware: observe your surroundings and pay attention to the operations on the farm and in the plant; recognize situations where haulers and their work may contribute to the spread of disease.
  • Take Care: ensure documentation is accurate and complete; pay attention to small details as these often make all the difference in whether biosecurity practices are effective in preventing disease.

Biosecurity Performance Standards

Biosecurity Standards are expectations for performance during an outbreak where disease control is critically important. Haulers transporting milk in a disease Control Area must follow these standards in order to meet the requirements of the Secure Milk Supply Program.

Performance Standard #1: Routing and Transportation Practices

The milk hauler/driver must take care to do the following to prevent the spread of disease and ensure movements can be tracked:

  1. Follow designated traffic routes in the Control Area and maintain routes as assigned.
  2. Communicate with the dispatcher before and during the route.
  3. Keep a written daily log that documents all stops along their route, including, but not limited to, farms, food, fuel, maintenance, and processing plant visits.
  4. Provide information about routes and travel to the dispatcher or response team upon request.
  5. Avoid driving over or through contaminated areas, especially if animals or manure are present.

Performance Standard #2: Avoid Contact with Possible Sources of Disease

The milk hauler/driver will encounter situations where the disease agent, if present, could spread through contact with animals, people, or equipment. He or she should ensure that they:

  1. Avoid contact with people who have contact with other animals, especially cattle, sheep, goats, or pigs.
  2. Avoid direct contact with animals, especially cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs.
  3. Wear protective booties/disposable boots during off-farm stops (such as food, fuel, and maintenance), if walk paths are visibly contaminated, and properly remove and dispose of them before re-entering the cab.
  4. Do not have passengers or any animals riding in the cab of the vehicle.
  5. Limit contact with people, equipment, and milk products on the farm to that which is required to complete their job responsibilities.
  6. Avoid animal feeding areas, such as feeding troughs or bunks, especially those that are near driveways or paths.

Performance Standard #3: Maintain Clean Equipment and Clothing

Excellent sanitation is the key to good disease control. Sanitation expectations extend past the farm itself, and continue to the hauler and any other potential visitors or equipment used on the dairy premises. Haulers must remember to:

  1. Keep the cab interior of the milk truck/tanker as clean as possible.
  2. Ensure there is no trash, dirty clothing, or footwear, no unnecessary supplies, and no visible organic material on all surfaces inside the cab.
  3. Maintain clean clothing and outerwear; keep an extra set of clean clothes as a backup for use when milk spray or spillage occurs.
  4. Keep any soiled clothes sealed in a garbage bag until they can be laundered.

Performance Standard #4: Respect the “Line of Separation” and Established Boundaries

Each dairy farm will have a “Line of Separation” (LOS) which will be used to separate off-farm traffic from on-farm movement of vehicles, people, and animals. Each farm will have a unique setup in terms of their boundaries and procedures. Other boundaries or structures may also exist that help control potential contamination. Haulers are required to:

  1. Understand what a LOS is and what procedures must be followed.
  2. Identify the LOS on each farm they visit and follow their unique procedures.
  3. Understand that the truck cab door is a Vehicle Door Boundary, that is, a physical barrier between the clean cab interior and any possible contamination on the farm. Keeping the cab clean helps to control the potential spread of disease between farms.
  4. Perform milk collection procedures in consideration of the farm-specific LOS.

Performance Standard #5: Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

FMD is not a risk to human health; PPE is worn to prevent the spread of disease between animals or farms via contaminated hands, clothing, and footwear. Haulers must take the following precautions:

  1. Wear single use (disposable) gloves and footwear covers during all activities that are conducted on-farm.
  2. Maintain a supply of PPE in the tanker cab sufficient for at least one full shift of activity within the Control Area or on a control route.
  3. Dispose of PPE before re-entering the tanker cab, or according to the biosecurity standards of the specific farm.
  4. Wear protective outerwear that covers street clothes. Appropriate outerwear will vary by farm.
  5. Remember that the truck cab door is a physical boundary (also called the Vehicle Door Boundary) between the hauler and the farm. Putting PPE on and taking it off at the cab door appropriately is key to maintaining good biosecurity.

Refer to the Hauler PPE Aids for more information about using PPE in individual situations.

Hauler Milk Collection Procedures

The activity of picking milk up from the farm has the potential to introduce FMD or an animal disease onto the farm or provide an avenue for spreading disease from farm to farm if contamination occurs. During a disease outbreak, haulers should take special precautions to ensure this risk is minimized.


Practices for Preventing the Spread of Disease

The risk of contamination and potential spread of disease can be significantly reduced by paying attention to even just a few steps or conditions in the milk collection process. Possible and critical points of contamination or disease spread include:

  1. Milk spills or leaks during milk loading
  2. Airborne virus escape from an open dome lid
  3. Residual raw milk in transfer hose
  4. Exterior contamination of transfer hose
  5. Improper milk sample handling

To address these potential issues, haulers should strive to leave all milk on the farm except that which his loaded into the sealed tanker and to do this with as little contamination of their equipment as possible, especially for equipment used on other farms.

The sections below outline the milk collection procedures that a hauler should use during a foreign animal disease outbreak. The procedures address the list of potential contamination points above and describe control measures for these points.

Loading Milk

Milk spills or leaks pose a risk of contaminating footwear, clothing and equipment that could subsequently expose another farm on the route to FMD virus. Haulers should work to prevent spills and leaks to the extent possible during all loading activities. Specific actions should include:

  • Keeping the inlet valve on the tanker closed at all times except during the pumping of milk.
  • Turning the pump off before the tanker reaches full capacity to avoid overflow and milk escaping from the vent or manhole.
  • Keeping the dome lid closed and locked to reduce the risk of airborne virus escaping the air vent during milk pumping and transporting.
    • Additional vents in the manhole cover and dome lid may be needed for adequate airflow
  • Alerting the dairy premises personnel of any leaks that do occur so that they can clean and disinfect the area. 
  • Minimizing milk spillage by using the outlined procedure for pumping milk and disconnecting the hose.

Milk Hose Connection and Pumping

Haulers will use their normal procedures for connecting/disconnecting hoses with the exception of the items listed below. These changes reduce the chance of contaminating another dairy premises or equipment with raw milk during this process.

  1. After loading milk, the hauler must use one of the following methods to ensure any milk remaining in the hose is not carried to the next premises:
    1. Use filtered air under pressure to remove residual raw milk from hose and pump after pumping and before leaving the premises; OR
    2. Close inlet valve on the tanker after pumping is complete and drain any remaining milk from the hose into the milk house drain by ‘walking the hose back’; ensure hose ends and caps do not contact the floor during this step, and if they do, appropriately sanitize these prior to putting the hose back on the truck.

Different methods will work effectively on different farms and haulers should choose the most appropriate method for the individual farm. These methods assume the hose is truck-mounted, which is the industry standard in Minnesota. If a different scenario exists on a farm, the hauler and producer should review the situation and determine an acceptable best practice for minimizing contamination.

Note: All water and disinfectant should drain back into the milk house drain or to a non-traffic area so that contamination of the tanker wheels and other equipment is minimized.

  1. The following actions should be used to ensure the exterior of the hose is not contaminated during loading:
    1. Handle the transfer hose to minimize external hose contamination with mud, manure, spilled milk, and other environmental contamination;
    2. Cap the end of the hose and rinse the exterior of hose with water to remove visible organic matter.
    3. Spray the hose exterior with a FMD-approved disinfectant before storing on the truck/tanker.

    Note: All water and disinfectant should drain back into the milk house drain or to a non-traffic area so that contamination of the tanker wheels and other equipment is minimized.

Collecting Milk Samples

On each milk pick-up, a milk sample is required from each farm for regulatory testing, specifically antibiotic screening. In the following situations, sampling on the farm by the hauler will not be required:

  • The farm collects samples using an approved in-line sampler. In these cases, the hauler simply picks up the sample that has been already collected and does not need to perform additional sampling activities.
  • A direct load farm that can be sampled upon arrival at the milk processing facility. These tankers will not be sampled on the farm; rather at the milk processor by approved sampling personnel so as to reduce the risk of spillage and contamination at the farm.
  • A single farm route where the hauler will only collect milk from one farm and then return to the plant. This sample can also be collected at the plant as the tanker sample will also qualify as the farm sample.
  • A farm where the Line of Separation (LOS) is located such that only the transfer hose crosses the LOS AND there is an on-farm licensed sampler who collects the samples and connects the hose to the bulk tank.

In all other cases, the hauler will still be responsible for collecting the milk sample and should take special precautions to ensure this does not become a point of contamination. Sample collection is a specific point of risk as the hauler handles raw milk, and equipment that is normally transferred from farm to farm is used to collect the samples. Because of these risks, changes must be made to the sampling procedures on farms where haulers will need to collect a sample. Acceptable methods for collecting these samples on these farms include:

  • Use of a single service, sterilized sampling syringe or dipper to collect the sample in lieu of the normal dipper that is transported from farm to farm; OR
  • Sample collection using a tanker mounted in-line sampling device; OR
  • Collection of samples using a dipper and dipper stand that is stored on the farm.

Care should be taken to ensure that sampling equipment is not shared between farms (such as using a common dipper/dipper stand between multiple farms).

Sampling Equipment

The following equipment must be available for sample collection and storage:

  • Sample coolers made of materials that can be cleaned and disinfected
  • Thermometer
  • Vials
  • Cooler/rack/ice
  • Single use sterile sampling syringe or sample dipper
  • Single use chlorine based sanitizer wipes
  • Pen/Marker
  • Paperwork for plant

Note: for normal sampling procedures, the hauler must also have sanitizer and test strips available. In this situation, the goal is to collect the sample using single use disposable sampling supplies, an in-line sample collection system or equipment stored on the farm. The hauler will not need to be responsible for sanitizing the dipper/dipper stand for reuse between farms.

Sampling the Milk

Haulers should follow the standard procedures for collecting samples on a farm, with special focus on the following points and with the following changes and adaptations:

  1. Prior to sampling, wash your hands with soap and water and dry.
  2. Prepare the single use sampling equipment for sampling; sterilized packaging should not be opened until the equipment is in the milk house, ready to collect a sample. All packaging and sampling equipment should be disposed of on the farm.
  3. Open the sample container, being careful not to contaminate the interior of the container and/or its cap. Do not dip the container in the milk. Do not carry the sample container in your pocket before or after sample collection as this can affect the temperature of the sample and could contaminate the sample container as well as your clothing.
  4. Sample the milk in the bulk tank using the sterile sampling syringe (pre-rinsing and dipping is not necessary) and make sure the sample container is not held over the bulk tank while filling. The sample container should not be filled more than ¾ full. Any milk left in the sampling device should be dumped out, not back into the bulk tank.
  5. Properly close the sample container, making sure it is sealed completely so it does not leak. Wipe the outside of the sample container with a single use, chlorine based sanitizer wipe (the wipe is discarded on the farm).
  6. Immediately place the sample in the refrigerated sample case and keep it at 32 – 40 °F until delivery. Provide a method, such as the use of racks or drainage in the sample case to keep the sample container from becoming contaminated. The top of the sample must be kept above the refrigerant (ice and water combination).
  7. Close the lid on the top of the bulk tank after the sample has been collected before starting to pump the milk.