Production of Milk

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History records cows being milked as far back as 9000 B.C. In Florida, cows have been milked since the settlement of St. Augustine in 1565. However, it was not until colonial times in 1611 that dairy cows arrived in Jamestown. From that time until 1850, dairying changed very little. Most cattle were dual purpose (used for dairy and beef purposes) and were kept to satisfy family food needs. Milk and dairy products were in short supply and for the most part unavailable to those not living on or near the farm. Milk production was seasonal, creating periods of excess as well as deficiency in the family milk supply. Stabilization of these production fluctuations by storage and/or further processing into butter, cheese, or other milk products was precluded by the lack of refrigeration. Consequently, marketing of milk, butter, and cheese was limited to towns which could be reached by horse-drawn wagons.

Over the years modern technology has rectified these problems and today a wide array of safe, wholesome dairy products are available to people throughout the developed world.


Production of quality milk is the concern of:

1. consumers of dairy products

2. retail distributors (super markets)

3. milk and milk product processors

4. dairy cooperatives

5. state regulatory departments

6. veterinarians, and

7. dairymen.

From the list it's obvious that very few of us are left out. Whether we derive a living from the dairy industry through employment or otherwise, most of us are at the very least consumers of dairy products. In the sections to follow we will examine some of these consumer interests and the efforts made in dairy product processing (from the farm to the retail shelf) to preserve the public's confidence and safety.


The Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21, Section 131.110 provides the following definition of milk:

"Milk is the lacteal secretion, practically free from colostrum, obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows."

Nearly 12% of the American household's total food expenditure is for dairy products. Milk and milk products alone provide 10% of the total available calories in the United States food supply, and in addition, represent one of the best natural sources of essential amino acids for human nutrition. These nutritional attributes of milk have long made it a mainstay particularly in the diet of growing children. There are estimated to be some 8 to 10,000 different types of milk products available thus making it an exceptionally versatile raw product.

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