Skimmed? Semi-skimmed? Or whole-fat milk? ISO/IDF standard ensures fat content quality for all tastes

Few minutes to read

This news belongs to our archive.

Tagged as FoodAgriculture
Published on
Photos: P. Granier / ISO
Click on the photo to download it in high resolution

Before adding that dollop of milk to our coffee or tea, filling up a cereal bowl, or reading the ingredients of any milk-based product, many will make a choice on the fat content of milk: skimmed, semi-skimmed or whole-fat?

But what exactly do these terms mean and how can we accurately ensure that all brands are using equivalent measures?

To respond to these issues and harmonize milk goods, ISO and the International Dairy Federation (IDF) have developed a standard providing testing requirements and guidelines to determine the fat content of milk. Now in its third edition, the standard is for the first time applicable to sheep and goat’s milk, in addition to cow’s milk.

“The fat content of milk is an important quality factor, and a major determinant of the price paid to milk producers,” says Silvia Orlandini,  ISO/IDF Project Leader for this edition of the standard (ISO 1211|IDF 1), “Harmonized test procedures allow the comparison of different products from various manufacturers. They also help deter and prevent the adulteration of milk designed to falsify fat content.”  

ISO 1211|IDF 1:2010, Milk – Determination of fat content – Gravimetric method (Reference method), provides a test methodology to determine the fat content of milk of good physicochemical (physical and chemical) quality, including guidelines for calculation and expression of results.

ISO 1211|IDF 1 has been an important standard in the milk industry since 1984 when it was first published by ISO. The latest 2010 edition brings the content up to date with state-of-the-art developments. Originally applicable to cow’s milk, the methodology can now be used for sheep and goat’s milk, whether full fat, reduced fat or skimmed, as well as chemically preserved and processed liquid milk.

The standard will be useful to engineers and developers in the dairy industry, regulatory authorities and research institutions, and the farming sector.

ISO 1211|IDF 1 was prepared by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 34, Food products, subcommittee SC 5, Milk and milk products, in collaboration with IDF – a non-profit organization representing the dairy sector worldwide. IDF and ISO have a long history of working together to develop and jointly publish standards methods of analysis and sampling for milk and derivative products.  

Some other related examples of ISO-IDF collaboration include fat content determination standards for cheese and processed cheese products, dried milk and dried milk products, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk, whey cheese, milk-based infant foods, milk based edible ices and ice mixes, skimmed milk, whey and buttermilk and caseins and caseinates.

ISO 1211|IDF 1:2010 (IDF 1:2010), Milk – Determination of fat content – Gravimetric method (Reference method), is available from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details). They may also be obtained directly from the ISO Central Secretariat, price 92 Swiss francs, through the ISO Store or by contacting the Marketing, Communication and Information department (see right-hand column).

Maria Lazarte
Maria Lazarte

Press contact

Journalist, blogger or editor?

Want to get the inside scoop on standards, or find out more about what we do? Get in touch with our team or check out our media kit.