Who is responsible for the representative sample?

Ignorance and lack of focus on proper sampling still characterize the dairy industry. So does the discussion about who is responsible for the samples being representative of the overall product

At Keofitt, the hypothesis is that the lack of care and focus on sampling is because the responsibility usually lies between the production and laboratory realms. The way dairymen have been trained so far at Kold College, the only dairyman college in Scandinavia, confirms the hypothesis. There are still dairymen who consider the analysis and sampling results in the plant the responsibility of the laboratory and its technicians. Henrik Bossen, a longtime teacher at Kold College, is trying to change that, as dairy processing and responsibilities have started to shift.

   “At the dairyman education, production has always been the most important part, and just five years ago it was as if representative sampling had no significance or interest. I was often met with the question 'what does that have to do with us?' when trying to involve the dairyman students in the responsibility for the good sample,” Henrik Bossen explains and eagerly continues:

   “After all, it is the dairymen who take the samples, so it has a lot to do with them. And especially now that the dairymen themselves do many of the analysis in relation to self-regulation that never reach the lab techs.”


The dairymen assume more responsibility

Henrik Bossen believes that his teaching efforts have started to impact the thought processes of the dairyman students who are increasingly aware about the part they play in the sample taking and analysis. Afterall, the sample taking is a direct link to their job of dairy processing and is important for keeping track of their process and the quality of their work. The future dairymen are taught to relate critically to the equipment they use for sampling and not least the analyzes of the samples.

   It is not only the future dairymen that must be engaged. It also applies to experienced dairy industry professionals:

   “I also try to tell the other teachers to focus on this. It is important that we all help change the perception of the importance of proper sampling and analysis,” says Henrik Bossen.

   After many years of intense focus, however, Henrik Bossen is hopeful about the future when it comes to the dairymen's approach to their own responsibility for representative sampling:

   “I think it will change much faster now with the new dairymen hopefully challenging the status quo with the knowledge they bring from Kold College,” emphasizes Henrik Bossen.

It is important to be able to trust your results, it is important to be able to trust your samples

The responsibility is distributed

It would be a misinterpretation to say that the responsibility has shifted from the lab techs to the dairymen. The responsibility still does not land in one area, but instead is a combination of departments that are all impacted by samples and their results.

   It is the responsibility of the dairymen that the samples are not contaminated during sampling or on the way to the laboratory. If the dairyman does the analysis, it is also the dairyman's responsibility that the sample is analyzed correctly. If the analysis task lands on the lab tech's desk, it is still their responsibility to process the sample properly. But there are several professionals who are part of the responsibility game:

   “The drivers at Arla Foods also need to know the importance of this, because when they take a sample on the dairy farm, that sample can be regarded as the farmer's paycheck. He gets his settlement based on the quality of that milk. So, if the driver accidentally puts his thumb in the milk, it could cost the farmer,” explains Henrik Bossen.

   The price the farmer gets for his milk depends on the quality, and if the driver put a foot - or in this case a finger in it, it can be an expensive mistake for the farmer. In addition, poor test results can trigger some costly efforts for the farmer, which may be unnecessary:

   “There is always the danger of discarding a product without fault, but it can also be expensive if the farmer, based on incorrect analysis results, thinks ’oh no, my quality is poor. I need to consult an advisor and see what I need to change or fix to regain my good quality’. It is costly, a waste of time and not very environmentally friendly. Therefore, it is important to be able to trust your results. It is important to be able to trust your samples,” Henrik Bossen concludes.