About the Milk and Dairy Program

 
Raw milk and the law
The sale of raw cow, goat or sheep milk for human consumption is illegal in Colorado.
 
Our role
  • We monitor milk and milk products produced in Colorado. Regulations are based on the federal Grade “A” Pasteurized Milk Ordinance.
  • We regularly perform inspections and sample products at all dairy farms, dairy plants and milk plants.
  • We also check milk and dairy plant pasteurizers and pasteurization procedures.
 
Manufacturing and sale of ice cream
  • To manufacture ice cream for sale from a premade, pasteurized mix, you must get the blend from an approved source.
    • You can’t add ingredients such as pasteurized creams, powders and sugars, etc.
    • You can add colorings, flavorings or items such as fruits or nuts. 
  • To manufacture ice cream for sale from raw milk, you must comply with the Colorado Manufactured Milk and Dairy Products Regulations.
  • To open an ice cream operation that will be part of a retail food establishment, where the product will be eaten on the premises or served over the counter to customers, you must notify your local health department.
  • All ice cream freezers must be an approved commercial type.
  • If your business will only be a manufacturing operation and not part of a retail food establishment, you must tell us about your plans for production:
303-692-3633
 
Keeping your milk fresh
  • Refrigerate milk promptly after purchase and after each use.
  • Storing milk at cooler temperatures keeps it fresh longer.
  • Retail stores must keep their dairy cases at 45 degrees Fahrenheit or lower to help promote the products’ safety and shelf life.
  • Consumers who follow similar handling, storage and temperature guidelines can expect their milk to last 14-21 days after it was packaged.
    • This date is indicated on containers by a "sell by" or "use by" date. However, all code dating is voluntary, and a few milk processors start from the date the milk was first produced rather than when it was packaged.
 
Veterinary drugs in food-producing animals
You can get information about veterinary drug usage in food-producing animals from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
 
Manufacture-grade dairy farms
You can find the regulations that apply to a manufacture-grade dairy farm in the Colorado Manufactured Milk and Dairy Products Regulations, in particular the requirements under item 1r.
 
Educational and nutritional information
Get educational materials or nutritional information about milk and dairy products from the Western Dairy Association:
 
1-800-274-6455
 
Marketing dairy products
  • All products marketed in Colorado must be from approved sources, but you don’t need a permit to sell the products.
  • If you want to sell products manufactured by a Colorado-based operation, the operation must have a manufacturer’s license. All such products must be from sources that have been inspected by our staff.
  • If you're an out-of-state manufacturer planning to market dairy products in Colorado, the plant where the products will be manufactured must be listed with Interstate Milk Shippers (IMS) for Grade A products. Additionally, you must send us a letter including specific information about:
    • The plant where the products will be manufactured.
    • The kinds of products that will be marketed.
    • The locations of any Colorado warehouses where the products will be stored.

Send the letter to:

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Division of Environmental Health and Sustainability
Attention: Milk Program Manager
4300 Cherry Creek Drive South, A2
Denver, CO 80246
 
Cheese requirements
  • Regulations about producing cheese from cow, goat or sheep milk are in the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance, in particular items 1p through 22p. These are the same as the Colorado Grade A Pasteurized Fluid Milk and Milk Product Regulations. These apply to:
    • 1 percent, 2 percent, skim and whole milk.
    • Cottage cheese.
    • Half-and-half.
    • Sour cream.
    • Whipping cream.
    • Yogurt.
    • Frozen desserts.
    • Hard and soft cheeses made from pasteurized milk.
    • Properly aged cheeses made from raw milk.
  • All Grade A milk and milk products must be packaged and produced in a Grade A milk plant approved by us.
  • The raw milk supply for Grade A milk plants must be from dairy farms approved by us.
  • If the raw milk must be transported to the plant for processing, an approved milk tanker must be used.
  • Cheese processors must comply with requirements for:
    • Aging rooms.
    • Approved cheese molds and vats.
    • Dry storage, labeling and packaging equipment.
  • We must approve aging practices for certain types of cheeses.
 
Grade A milk plant requirements
  • Regulations about Grade A milk plants can be found in the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance, in particular items 1p through 22p. These are the same as the Colorado Grade A Pasteurized Fluid Milk and Milk Product Regulations, and apply to:
    • 1 percent, 2 percent, skim and whole milk.
    • Cottage cheese.
    • Half-and-half.
    • Sour cream.
    • Whipping cream.
    • Yogurt.
  • All Grade A milk and milk products must be packaged and produced in a Grade A milk plant approved by the division.
  • The raw milk supply for Grade A milk plants must be from dairy farms approved by us.
  • If the raw milk must be transported to the plant for processing, an approved milk tanker must be used.
  • All Grade A milk plants must include proper:
    • Cleaning facilities.
    • Containers.
    • Hand-washing facilities.
    • Lighting.
    • Pipelines.
    • Refrigeration.
    • Storage tanks.
    • Ventilation.
    • Waste disposal.
    • Water supply.
  • The pasteurization process must use an approved pasteurizer, equipped with an indicating and recording thermometer.
  • Batch pasteurizers also must have an air space thermometer and a properly designed outlet valve with stops.
 
Grade A dairy farm requirements
  • Regulations about Grade A dairy farms can be found in the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance, in particular items 1p through 22p. These are the same as the Colorado Grade A Pasteurized Fluid Milk and Milk Product Regulations.
  • These apply to 1 percent, 2 percent, skim and whole milk; cottage cheese; half-and-half; sour cream; whipping cream; and yogurt.
  • All Grade A milk and milk products must be packaged and produced in a Grade A milk plant approved by us.
  • The raw milk supply for Grade A milk plants must be from dairy farms approved by us.
  • If the raw milk must be transported to the plant for processing, an approved milk tanker must be used.
 
License requirements
We require a: 
  • Dairy Plant License (non-Grade A milk manufacturing).
  • Grade A Dairy Farm License.
  • Grade A Milk Plant License.
  • Milk Hauler’s License.
  • Milk Receiving Station License.
  • Milk Sampler and/or Tester License.

To apply for a license, call 303-692-3633.