It is unlawful to sell or give away unpasteurized milk in Alberta.

Overview

In Alberta, different agencies are responsible for licensing and permitting of dairy producers or dairy processors. Licensing is based on the volume of raw milk being produced or processed. To help ensure food safety, all animals must meet health requirements before milking, milk is tested before processing, and both production and processing facilities are routinely inspected.

Definitions

Producer – a person who sells, or supplies for sale or processing, milk or farm-separated cream that has been produced by one or more dairy animals owned or controlled by that person.

Process – to pasteurize, homogenize, package or treat milk so that the milk’s form or composition is altered in any manner.

Production requirements

Before a licence to produce any type of milk (cow, goat, sheep or water buffalo) is issued, a pre-licence inspection by AFRED is required of your dairy production buildings and equipment.

Dairy producers who run dairy farms must ensure the health of their livestock.

Under the Dairy Industry Act and Dairy Industry Regulation, Alberta Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development (AFRED) is responsible for regulating dairy farms, milking parlours, dairy processing facilities, bulk milk graders, milk transport vehicles and pasteurizer operators.

Supply management and quota

The Canadian dairy industry is supply managed using a quota system. Supply management is a regulatory policy that ensures supply does not exceed demand. It means that Canadian dairy producers are provided with a stable income, dairy processors always have a reliable source of milk, and consumers can expect relatively stable prices at the grocery store regardless of the season.

In Alberta, commercial dairy farms that produce and sell milk must hold a quota – which is basically a licence to produce a set amount of milk. A commercial dairy farm is an enterprise farm that produces over 50 L of milk per day from the species Bos taurus. For information on purchasing quota in Alberta, contact Alberta Milk.

If you are interested in dairy production, see Table 1. for licence and permit requirements.

Table 1. Dairy product producers: licence and permit requirements

Milk produced for sale/day Milk products or activities Licence or permit
any volume per day milk from goat, sheep or water buffalo
  • you must be licensed as a Dairy Producer by AFRED’s Inspection and Investigations Section
  • quota is not required
50 L or less per day cow’s (Bos Taurus) milk
  • you must be licensed as a Dairy Producer by AFRED’s Inspection and Investigations Section
50 L or more per day cow’s (Bos Taurus) milk
any volume move raw milk from the production facility to a processing facility

Processing requirements

Milk and milk products may also be used as an ingredient in other foods such as baked goods, meat and deli products, candy and sweets including chewing gum and medicine. Even vodka can be made from whey.

The Dairy Industry Act and Regulation outline the basic requirements for a processor. If you have an idea for a dairy product and are interested in becoming a processor in Alberta, see Table 2. for licence and permit requirements.

Table 2. Dairy product processors: licence and permit requirements

Milk processed for sale/day Milk products Licence or permit
50 L or more per day
  • sheep, goat or water buffalo milk (other than Bos Taurus)
  • dairy products made from this milk
you must be licensed as a Dairy Processor by AFRED’s Meat and Dairy Inspection Section
50 L or more per day cow (Bos Taurus) milk, or dairy products made from this milk you must be licensed as a Dairy Processor by Alberta Milk
50 L or less per day any milk or dairy products made from any kind of milk (cow or other) you need a food-handling permit from Alberta Health Services: Environmental Public Health

Note: Facilities with working pasteurizing equipment (Vat or HTST) will require participation in the pasteurizer operator licensing course through AFRED’s Food Processing Development Centre.

Federal requirements

If you wish to market milk or dairy product(s) outside of Alberta or Canada, your processing facility must be federally licensed and inspected by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

Resources

AgriProfit$ Dairy Cost Study
Dairy Industry Act
Dairy Industry Regulation
Food Processing Development Centre (FPDC) – Pasteurizer Operator Licensing Course (contact FPDC for course dates)
Dairy Farmers of Canada
Food and Drug Regulations – Division 8-Dairy Products

Contact

For information on becoming a Dairy Producer, contact:
Inspection and Investigations Section
Phone: 403-755-1474
Email: [email protected]

For information on becoming a Dairy Processor, contact:
Meat and Dairy Inspection Section
Email: [email protected]

For information on purchasing quota in Alberta, contact Alberta Milk.

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