Straight Talk

3 A Dairy

3A-Dairy was founded in 1920’s by three dairy related associations in the interest of creating sanitary standards and practices for equipment and systems used to process milk and milk products, and other perishable foods. Today, the 3-A Sanitary Standards Committees are composed of representatives from many government agencies and industry.

Standard Number 20-20, 3-A Sanitary Standards for Multiple-Use Plastic Materials Used as Product Contact Surfaces for Dairy Equipment has been developed to “_cover the material requirements of plastics for multiple-use as product contact and/or cleaning solution contact surfaces in equipment for production, processing and handling of milk and milk product(s).” Test criteria for approval of plastic materials include cleanability, bacterial treatment, repeat use conditions, and FDA compliance. Samples are subjected to chemicals representative of dairy clearing compounds and measured for weight change and changes in surface appearance.

To display the 3A-Dairy symbol, equipment manufactures must use only 3A Dairy approved plastic materials. Using unapproved materials while displaying the 3A symbol can result in the loss of the right to display the symbol. Many states including CA and WI (the two largest dairy food suppliers) have incorporated the 3A standard into their state inspection standards.

The 3A-Dairy organization annually publishes a list of approved plastic materials. Important Note: Materials are approved by product, grade, form, and supplier, and not by generic material.