It is important to undertake a visual inspection of the equipment to ascertain the current condition of components and the effectiveness of cleaning. The objective is not to assess the performance of the components – although some inferences could be made by their presentation – but rather the ability of their milk contact surfaces to stay clean and to oppose microbial colonisation. Furthermore, it is an opportunity to inform the diagnosis of the problem, and help in developing the remedy.
Visual inspections usually involve the dismantling of equipment. This can pose a challenge in many circumstances as it relies on the skills and know-how of the ‘inspector’, the tools required and on-hand, the complexity and layout of the equipment, the consent of the equipment’s owner, and above all, the consideration of safety. The reality is that the components that are inspected are those where access is safe and easy, dismantling is simple and quick, and the skills and tools required are few. In addition, the owner is also comfortable and reassured that all equipment will be returned to the ‘as found’ condition.
Undertaking a visual inspection requires a systematic approach. It follows the path of the milk from the cluster to the bulk milk vat. Other components are also inspected even though they may strictly not be in contact with the milk; they may have been exposed to milk vapour or have had milk enter through a malfunction.
When inspecting a component four considerations are needed.
- Is the surface clean or dirty? A clean surface is visually and physically free of any
deposits, residues, stains etc.
- If deposits are found, what sort of deposit is it?
- What is the physical condition of the component? Perished, broken, cracked, etc.?
- What is needed to restore/rectify the situation so that the component can be deemed
clean? (record this in the “comments & actions required” section.
If the component is clean, free of deposits, and in good service condition then it can be considered to have passed the inspection. If the component is dirty, contains deposits, or is in poor service condition then it can be considered to have failed the inspection.
It is important to note that a component that fails may not necessary infer that it is a causative factor in poor dairy hygiene. For example, a cracked claw bowl may fail the condition
component of the inspection but it may not be a reason for poor hygiene, even though it may pose a risk and therefore, should be replaced.
Using photos to record unusual or uncertain findings can then be shared with collaborators for input and contributory comments.