Written By: Ellie Wilson, MS, RD Senior Nutritionist, Price Chopper SupermarketsBetter & Better
From the outside looking in, it might appear that getting milk from cow to cup is actually a very old farming tradition that has been adapted and improved and is no big deal now. It might look like there is not a lot of room for innovation, or that it isn’t really needed – you don’t hear about many problems with dairy, right? You can feel confident in the quality of Price Chopper milk, cream and half and half because there are many safety and quality checks and procedures that go into turning raw milk into all of these wholesome products.
It starts at the farm – I already shared some of the procedures that help the farmer get milk ready to be picked up by the tanker truck. Garelick field rep Jackie inspects the farm periodically to ensure they are maintaining their safety practices and supports John with any updates or recommendations that have been identified. Next, the tanker truck has to pump the milk into the two separate holding tanks in the truck and seal those tanks. When the tanker gets to the plant, it is quarantined outside the building, and a lab tech comes out to verify the seals, then open the two compartments and take samples to the lab. If the seal is broken, or anything is detected by the lab, that milk cannot enter the plant. The milk is checked for any substances that don’t belong – like antibiotic residue, or high bacteria count. It is also checked for quality measures, like butterfat content. This is all tracked and is part of the information Garelick Farms sends back to John Green that he uses to take care of his cows.
Once the technician gives the ok, the truck can move into one of two bays and the milk is transferred into the raw milk silos. Then the tanker is cleaned and sanitized so it can go back out for pick ups. If the schedule is working, they move a truck in and out every 1 ½ hours. Jeniece Goellner, the plant quality manager, ensures that all of the quality and safety procedures happen at every critical point in the process where something could go wrong and compromise the quality of the milk. This requires great attention to detail, constant consideration on how to improve the process, and passion – which plant manager Dave shared is a key ingredient from the many long term, committed workers that are part of the plant team. This process is so well coordinated, there are only about 10 tanker rejections out of over 1100 tanker deliveries per year. The milk is bottled, labeled and moved into cold storage.
Each Price Chopper store has a dairy manager who tracks milk sales and sends an order in to Garelick Farms for exactly what they need each day. That order goes to the plant and then to Garelick employees like Isaac Seldman. He reviews and assembles each order, and out they go to the trucks for store delivery. This is why the milk is so fresh – it can be from cow to cup in less than 24 hours, sometimes even in 12 hours!
So there it is – your cow to cup tour. In addition to the milk itself, I hope you can see that there is a lot of passion, commitment, and connection poured into that cup. Enjoy a glass of Price Chopper milk today!