From the cow’s milk to baby’s bottle: complete control and traceability
Cow’s milk offers a wealth of nutritional benefits. It is an essential source of nutrients such as proteins, lipids, vitamins and minerals, and it has long been vital to human food and health. It is also one of the basic components of infant formula.
From the first fragile moments of a baby’s life, the most extreme attention must be paid to the quality of the milk to ensure harmonious growth for the tiny tot. Mother’s milk or infant formula is the only food for him up to 6 months old, as it contains all the nutrition needed for his development. For maximum quality and safety, Materna makes no concessions when it comes to the milk collected from the dairy farm and prepared specifically for babies.
Closely supervised dairy farmers
To ensure faultless control of its milk supply chain, Materna works closely with Lact’union, a dairy cooperative that processes 230 million liters of milk each year collected from a regional network of 550 dairy farms (for more information: www.lactinov.fr). The network is not open to just any dairy farmer: to be eligible, the farmer must meet uncompromising specifications for nutritional, hygienic and environmental standards. In particular, members agree to follow two quality charters: the “Best Practices Charter in Dairy Farming” and the “Au Fil du Lait” milk charter.
At the farms involved in these programs, cows receive a balanced diet with feed rations developed in cooperation with nutritionists. Depending on the season, they graze freely in the pastures of the dairy farm and eat fodder, most of it produced on the farm, whenever they want. In addition, they are sheltered in roomy, ventilated buildings. The combination of a balanced diet and comfortable accommodation produce milk of optimum nutritional quality.
Twice a day, the milk produced is stored in ultra-safe low-temperature tanks before regular collection by the dairy cooperative’s tank trucks. Before pumping the milk, the driver takes temperature readings and samples, both of which are invaluable for verifying consistent quality and identifying the production source if an anomaly were to arise.
Multiple checks throughout the process
When the trucks arrive at the factory, the milk undergoes a battery of tests before it enters Materna’s baby milk manufacturing lines. Samples are taken from each tank truck and analyzed to confirm the milk’s compliance before it is accepted.
The milk is then pasteurized and its fat content standardized. The product is once again analyzed before the first ingredients are added to Materna’s growing up milk and other milks and cereals (cereals, vitamins, minerals, etc.), based on strict preparation methods. Once all of the ingredients have been incorporated, the product is heated to 140°C for a few seconds to completely sterilize it. It is also analyzed for compliance with the specifications of Materna’s final customer.
In the bottling lines, the checks continue at each major stage of the sterile packaging process: bottle disinfection, filling and sealing in a clean room with filtered ambient air. To guarantee traceability, each batch is assigned reference numbers so that they may be immediately identified in the event that part of the production must be set aside. The factory laboratory also takes samples at the exit of the bottling line and in the storage area before shipment to perform bacteriological, physico-chemical and sensory checks.
Each batch of products must be certified for compliance by the laboratory before it is shipped to the final customer. The multitude of procedures is the best guarantee of impeccable quality, giving peace of mind about baby’s food and growth.