Archive for November 17th, 2009

Cheese Chicks: Where does your milk come from?

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Ever wonder where the dairy products you’re buying were processed? It’s easy to find out by checking out the Moo Milk (Maine’s Own Organic Milk) website. They have posted an explanation of how to decode the numbers stamped on commercial cartons of milk, and figure out the state and specific plant that it’s been processed at — it’s 23 for Maine and 33 for New Hampshire:

Some dairies print the name and location of the processing plant on their label. But many dairies, and almost all “store” brands of dairy products, use the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) system.

To find the FIPS number, look at the area where the sell-by date is stamped on your carton. Depending on the brand, there may be different sequences of numbers, but part of the sequence will have a two-digit number followed by a hyphen and then another number, which could be two to four digits. The two-digit number before the hyphen tells you the state where the processing plant is located. The number after the hyphen identifies the particular processing plant.

Dairy processing plants located in Maine have number 23. So if you want to purchase products that are processed in Maine, remember “It’s 23 for ME.”

The state number is then followed by the plant information for Maine processing plants. These numbers are assigned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to all interstate milk shippers. This site enables you to locate any plant in Maine and New Hampshire. For example, these are the assigned plant numbers from the January 2009 report (up-to-date information available online):

Company Plant Location Plant #
Oakhurst Dairy Portland 1
H.P. Hood Portland 3
Houlton Farms Dairy Houlton 20
Garelick Farms of Maine Bangor 26
Kate’s Butter Old Orchard Beach 30
Smiling Hill Farm Dairy Westbrook 31