By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Milk showdown at Merced Fair
milk 1
Stanislaus County Milk and Dairy Inspectors Delia Neenes and Don Rowley prepare to taste shots of milk for the 53 rd annual Merced County Fair Milk Producer’s Quality Control Contest, held Thursday at the Merced fairgrounds. - photo by JONATHAN MCCORKELL / The Journal

The 53rd annual Merced County Fair Milk Producer’s Quality Control Contest was held Thursday at the Merced fairgrounds.                

That milk you pour on your cereal and other dairy products tastes a lot better than it did 50 years ago thanks to contests for Grade "A" dairies.

Fair staff tabulated the judges' flavor and bacteria scores for hundreds of samples from Valley counties, including Stanislaus and Merced. The judging results — the highest scoring milk producers and the creameries they sell milk to — will be announced before the Merced County fair, and awards will be presented to the winners at the awards ceremony during the fair, June 15-19.About 40 judges represented creameries, labs, county environmental health departments, college and university animal science departments and the USDA, score the milk using a flavor score sheet to assess samples. About 40 percent of California's milk comes from the counties that participate in the fair's contest.

Joel Peterson, a field representative for California Dairies, Incorporated, explained that proper milk tasting is done with milk warmed to 75 degrees.

“It is amazing what abnormalities the human tongue can pick up when the milk is warmed,” he said.

Tasters are looking for flavor problems such as bitterness, a feed taste, flatness, fruitiness, a garlic taste, onion, malt, saltiness and freshness.

Dairies inspectors tasted milk from Cal Dairies, Hilmar Cheese, Gallo Farms and Nestle.

The contest was started by Haydn J. "Mickey" Sartori, a state dairy inspector, who died in 1997. The competition was established to improve the quality of dairy products in Valley counties.  It serves as an educational tool and incentive for milk producers who don't distribute their own products but sell them to companies for processing and distribution. The object of the contest is to give producers an opportunity to show their skills in producing high grade milk and to recognize their abilities.

To reach Jonathan McCorkell, e-mail, or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.