Farm Ireland

Friday 23 February 2018

New detection system could save Irish dairy sector €200m a year

Environment Minister Alan Kelly launched the product. Photo: Steve Humphreys.
Environment Minister Alan Kelly launched the product. Photo: Steve Humphreys.
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

An Irish company has unveiled a new early detection system for flagging the presence of thermoduric bacteria in milk in as little as six hours.

The company behind the new system estimates it could save the dairy industry up to €200m in reduced farmer penalties, a better shelf-life product and enhanced protein concentration.

The system - developed by Ocular Technology - is designed to cut detection times for thermoduric bacteria from the current standard of 72 hours to 24 hours, while an alarm can signal the potential presence of bacteria in as little as six hours.

Environment Minister Alan Kelly, who launched the product said it will create at least 20 jobs in sales, research and engineering over the next two years at the company's base in Ballina, Co Tipperary.

The global testing market for raw milk, in-process milk and dairy produce is valued at €150m a year.

"Not only will test results be available to milk suppliers in 24 hours, Oculer will enable co-ops and dairy processors to react faster to positive results than they currently can by using the traditional agar method," said Ocular CEO Brian Byrne

The system will also inform milk farmers where the source of the problem originated ­whether it's a milking machine on the farm or ineffective cleaning of the animals teats.

"Thermoduric bacteria can only be effectively eliminated when the source of the problem is accurately and reliably identified," said Mr Byrne

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Milk Test New Zealand - the independent laboratory that carries out all of the thermoduric bacteria testing for the industry giant Fonterra - is to receive a system in Hamilton and stated it sees "great potential" in it as it can analyse 2,400 samples at the same time.

Thermoduric bacteria are naturally occurring bacteria that survive the pasteurisation process and are responsible for issues such as spoilage of finished products, reduced shelf life and reduced protein concentrations.

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