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Cornell food scientists name two commercial dairies as New York state's top milk processors

Cornell's Department of Food Science has selected two commercial dairies as producing the highest quality milk in New York state. The annual selection is tied to the New York State Milk Quality Improvement Program, sponsored by the New York Milk Promotion Order. The analytical tests are run at Cornell.

Crowley Foods of Binghamton and Upstate Farms Dairy of Rochester tied for top place with an 84.1 score. Second place went to Crowley Foods of Albany with a score of 83.6. Niagara Milk Cooperative (Wendt's Dairy) of Niagara Falls received third place with a score of 82.8. The awards were given Aug. 30 at the New York State Fair.

Judging criteria included testing for butterfat and protein content, post-pasteurization bacteria counts within the milk's sell-by date and vitamin levels. The most critical attribute analyzed was product flavor.

Each year, random samples of whole, reduced-fat, low-fat and fat-free milk are evaluated by the program. The New York State Milk Promotion Order, is funded by money the state collects from dairy producers and administered through New York's Department of Agriculture and Markets. All commercial milk processors in the state participate. Last year, Crowley Foods of Albany was named the state's top fluid milk processor. Niagara Milk Cooperative (Wendt's Dairy) won second place, and Upstate Farms Dairy of Rochester and Stewart's Processing Corp. (Saratoga Dairy) of Saratoga Springs tied for third place.

From July 1, 1998, to June 30, 1999, over 500 milk samples were collected and nearly 6,000 individual tests were run to determine the winners. The milk is examined when it is received and again 14 days later, near the end of the sell-by date.

Trained testers taste each sample and give it a score, says David Bandler, Cornell professor emeritus of food science, who was the director of the Milk Quality Improvement Program from 1972 to 1997. Kathryn J. Boor, Cornell assistant professor of food science, currently directs the program.

Says Boor: "The dairy industry is the number one agricultural industry in the state from a quality and marketing perspective, and we want to make sure the milk in our state is competitive in the national marketplace and international marketplace."

Cornell University Dairy's milk scored the highest in the state with 88.5 points, but because the school conducts the judging it is not eligible for the award.

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