The importance of processing methods and equipment is just as vital as the quality of the raw materials. High quality first milking colostrum is rightfully considered the richest and most intricate source of bioactive fractions known in nature.
The goal of processing is three fold:
1) Provide safety while retaining value:
The processing must assure that any pathogens that may be present are effectively destroyed. Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) must be followed to produce a safe and wholesome product.
The bio-actives of colostrum are far more sensitive than the primarily nutritional proteins of milk. The tertiary (surface or 3 dimensional) structure of many proteins and peptides is crucial to their function and efficacy. This structure is often time/temperature sensitive. The lock cannot be opened when the key does not fit.
Equipment is seldom designed and tuned to the exacting demands of colostrum which can lead to destruction of 40% or more of the raw product’s initial value. However, it is possible to retain value during processing when done by people with knowledge, concern and respect for the benefits of colostrum products.
2) Consistency: Inconsistent raw product cannot be processed consistently.
Even when the cows are of the same parity (number of calves), environment, nutritional status, vaccination program, dry period length (amount of time that a cow is not milked, prior to birth), etc., colostrum is inherently more variable from cow to cow than is milk. Pooling colostrum from several hundred cows or more creates a consistent raw product with greater antibody diversity, if collection and quality control requirements are applied consistently.
Without closely monitored criteria and processing, there cannot be consistent finished product from batch to batch.
To assure quality, colostrum should be inspected:
- By the dairyman at harvest
- At procurement from source herd
- Upon delivery to the plant
- Upon removal from storage
- Immediately prior to acceptance or rejection for the production batch
- In the end, the product must be in a shelf stable, consumer friendly and effective form.
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