About the Milk and Dairy Unit

The primary mission of the Milk Unit is to ensure the public has a safe and wholesome milk supply. The Milk Unit accomplishes its mission through a team of professional sanitarians located in Austin and throughout the state. One of our main objectives is to ensure that milk sanitarians have the resources, training, and supplies they need to do their work.


Milk Unit sanitarians work to ensure that appropriate statutes and regulations are applied uniformly to the milk industry so that Texas consumers receive a safe and wholesome milk supply. All dairy farms and milk processing plants are required to possess permits that must be approved after inspections indicate that requirements have been met. The sanitarians also routinely inspect facilities and collect product samples that are tested for quality and safety. They also approve locations and plans for new or modified construction; review plans for new dairy and processing facilities and new or modified equipment installations. The Milk Unit also issues warning notifications for violations and monitors analyses from State Certified laboratories across Texas when conditions are found that present health hazards for the consumer.

Milk Sampling

The Milk Unit is responsible for monitoring analyses of milk samples from all the laboratories across the state and for taking appropriate enforcement action whenever quality and safety standards are violated. The Unit also coordinates and manages the sampling program statewide so that products are sampled and tested at the frequency specified by state regulations.


The Milk Unit maintains official records of inspections and laboratory analyses of products. Computer automated applications have been established to maintain individual dairy and plant records, make evaluations of sampling test data, and to generate appropriate warning and suspension letters when products are out of compliance. The Unit also maintains the state milk drug residue data system. This program monitors all raw milk receiving and transfer stations to ensure that monthly milk drug residue screening tests by the milk industry and Milk Unit field staff are performed and reported. All Grade “A” retail products manufactured in Texas must meet standards of identity as well as nutritional requirements.


The Milk Unit instructs state milk sanitarians and industry officials in the theory, proper operation, and testing of dairy and milk plant equipment. The Milk Unit also keeps all personnel abreast of current federal and state policies. They also maintain close association with the Interstate Milk Shippers Conference, which is instrumental in providing the latest developments or changes to the Grade “A” Pasteurized Milk Ordinance as well as the latest information on milk production and processing equipment technology.


The Milk Unit also maintains interstate milk shipment agreements. State rating officers are standardized and certified by US Public Health Service/Food and Drug Administration Milk Specialists and routinely conduct milk sanitation surveys. Every milk plant and bulk tank unit at dairy farms is surveyed every twelve to twenty-four months. Each plant and bulk tank unit must have an acceptable sanitation rating to engage in interstate commerce, bid on federal contacts, or supply federally funded school districts. The surveys are an accurate gauge of the quality of the Milk Unit’s overall program and its uniformity in interpreting statutes and regulations.

Rules and Complaints

The staff also prepares rules, amendments to rules, and legislation for approval by the Department of State Health Services or the State Legislature. All consumer complaints are considered a priority and are addressed immediately to assure protection of the public health.