Wednesday 28 September 2016

Farmers risk penalties over unapproved detergent usage

Martin Ryan

Published 12/07/2016 | 02:30

Several new and more stringent tests are available for milk quality.
Several new and more stringent tests are available for milk quality.

Thousands of dairy farmers may be in breach of cross-compliance and risking severe penalties on their single farm payment due to detergents being used on their farms, a senior dairy expert has warned.

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Teagasc's Dr David Gleeson said 'unapproved' detergents are being offered on the market and "there is a lot of messing going on" at detergent supplier level, which is causing serious concern to dairy processors.

He told the Arrabawn Milk Quality Seminar at Nenagh that several new and more stringent tests are available for milk quality and they are showing "the level of chlorine in milk is increasing and creating a problem" for processors.

He said this can arise out of using detergents containing more than 3.5pc chlorine.

"Public water supplies in use in some farm dairies may also be a contributor, because chlorine is being added at up to 10 times the recommended concentration to compensate for the loss of up to 50pc of the supply in the pipelines," Dr Gleeson said.

He pointed out the Teagasc list of approved dairy detergents is being widely used by farmers in the UK, while many Irish dairy farmers are unaware of its existence.

"The detergent must have a PCS [Pesticide Control Service] number, but there is a lot of messing going on with PCSs, and some suppliers appear to be using the same number on up to five different products," he warned.

He added that any "confusion" on detergent approval should be a concern for farmers on cross compliance.

Chlorine detergents can lead to high levels of Trichloromethane (TCM) and chlorate residues and the bulk tank should not smell like a swimming pool if the system is being properly washed, while some detergents include carcinogenic products that should not be in the dairy, he pointed out.

A survey of 112 farms with TCM problems showed that 25pc were leaving chlorine in the plant after washing, 16pc were using too much detergent, and many were using a bad detergent.

The target should be to use a detergent containing 3.5pc chlorine or less and care should also be taken in the selection and use of teat dips.

Using a teat spray and not wiping the teats properly is probably worse than not using it at all, he said.

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