Skip to Main Content

Home Explore Careers

Dairy Products Manufacturing Workers

History

Since herd animals were first domesticated, humankind has kept cattle for meat and milk. From its ancient beginnings in Asia, the practice of keeping cattle spread across much of the world. Often farmers kept a few cows to supply their family's dairy needs. Because fresh milk spoils easily, milk that was not consumed as a beverage had to be made into a product like cheese. Before the invention of refrigeration, cheese was the only dairy product that could be easily transported across long distances. Over the centuries, many distinctive types of hard cheeses have become associated with various towns and regions of the world, such as Cheddar in England; Edam and Gouda in Holland; Gruyère in Switzerland; and Parma (parmesan), a province of Italy. 

The dairy products industry has evolved only in the last century or so, with the development of refrigeration and various kinds of specialized machinery, the scientific study of cattle breeding, and improved road and rail transportation systems for distributing manufactured products. The rise in urban populations also gave an extra impetus to the growth of the industry, as more and more people moved away from farm sources of dairy products and into cities.

Another important advancement was the introduction of pasteurization, named for the noted French chemist Louis Pasteur. Many harmful bacteria can live in fresh milk. In the 1860s, Pasteur developed the process of pasteurization, which involves heating a foodstuff to a certain temperature for a specified period of time to kill the bacteria, and then cooling the food again. This process made milk safe to drink and extended its shelf life.

Related Professions
Featured Companies