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Fonterra develops new milk powder quality test

Fonterra develops new milk powder quality test

Fonterra is introducing a new form of product testing that greatly reduces the time it takes to test milk powder quality and improves the quality assurance of its products.

While flow cytometry testing has been used in fresh dairy for many years, adapting the technology to test milk powder is a world-first. Fonterra’s new technique cuts the time required to sample and test product quality from days to hours, allowing close to real-time monitoring of milk powder production and tighter control over manufacturing.

“As well as having world-class manufacturing processes producing product to international specifications, it’s important to be able to demonstrate to customers that our products meet the highest quality standards,” says Jeremy Hill, Fonterra’s General Manager Manufacturing Innovation.

“This technology will allow us to monitor and adjust production runs far faster, resulting in better quality product and significant manufacturing and testing efficiencies.”

Fonterra researchers have spent over four years adapting flow cytometry for use on milk powder, to the point where it has proven both fast and reliable. Traditionally, samples would be taken and sent to a laboratory for testing – a manual process that takes several days. While other rapid methods do exist, they do not provide the level of reliability that Fonterra and its customers demand.

Flow cytometry works by examining microscopic particles suspended in a stream of fluid. A beam of light is directed onto the fluid and a number of detectors used to monitor the refracted light.

The faster testing technology will help gather product quality information during the production process, not just at the end when product is about to be packed. This allows the resources devoted to product quality assurance to be used to the greatest advantage.

Fonterra is the largest exporter of milk powder in the world.

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