1920s Dairy Regulation

There exist several pieces of legislation regulating aspects of agricultural industries, in particular from the perspective of ensuring food hygiene and safety.  This reflected the importance of agriculture to the newly independent State.  Much of the legislation is still in force but has been superseded or restricted by later European-based, more comprehensive food hygiene measures.

The Dairy Produce Act provides for the regulation of the manufacture, marketing and export of dairy products with a view to improving its general standard.  It makes provision for the registration and control of premises engaged in the manufacture or sale of dairy products and the marketing of such products.

Registration of Creameries

The legislation provides the conditions in relation to the registration of creameries.  The requisite conditions for registration in respect of creameries and butter factories in each category is specified.

The words creamery may only be applied in respect of registered premises.  The use of the word creamery in relation to butter is taken as a trade description specifying that it has been manufactured on registered premises. It is an offence to supply milk to an illegal creamery.

There are different conditions applicable to the different categories of creameries, butter exporters and other establishments. The various registers are made available to the public and may be inspected.

The owners of registered premises must keep records in prescribed forms of a consignment of butter dispatched from the premise.  Inspectors may inspect the records concerned.

Product Regulation

The Department may make regulations prescribing markings on every packaging or wrapper consigned or sold on any premises to which the regulations apply. The Department may make regulations regarding the process of pasteurisation.

Regulations may be made requiring

  • calculation of price to be paid for butter and cream supplied to any premises to which regulations apply being on the basis of butter fat content and other prescribed constituents, prescribing, sampling and testing methods,
  • prescribing records to be kept requiring retention of samples,
  • requiring instruments and appliances used for sampling or testing milk or cream to be tested and found accurate.

It’s not lawful to sell or offer or consign for sale on or from any premises registered under the Act in certain weight quantities unless packed, examined, classified and marked. Fees are payable in respect of registered premises.

The 1924 Act provided for a national butter market.  Licences could be granted to suitable premises for use of the national mark.  Regulations can be made in respect of the manner of application of the national mark. It is an offence to use the national mark or imitate it other than as licensed.


It is an offence to tender or offer for sale any dirty, stale or contaminated milk or cream or milk or cream contained in any dirty vessel to a creamery or any other place where milk is used for the manufacture of dairy produce.  It is an offence for any such person to receive any such dirty or contaminated milk or vessel etc.

It is an offence for a person to sell or expose for sale or barter any article of food for human consumption or for use in a butter factory or for use in any premises on which any human food is manufactured to for sale, any butter which is dirty or contaminated.

Inspectors from the Department of Agriculture are given powers of inspection and sampling etc.

Register of  Dairymenm

The Milk and Dairies Act deals with the regulation of dairies, dairymen and intermediaries in the sale and supply of milk.

A dairy includes any farm, farmhouse, cowshed, milk store or other places from which milk is supplied for sale, on which milk is kept or used for the purpose of sale. A dairyman is the occupier of the dairy or any purveyor of milk.

The legislation originally gave the sanitary authority (the council) the registered powers to supervise dairies and dairymen.  Its officers have powers of entry and inspection at all reasonable times.  It is an offence to obstruct or impede officers of authority.

A person who carries on the business of a dairyman must register with the authorities.  The application is in the prescribed form.

If the authority is satisfied the applicant is not a fit and proper person to carry on the business of dairy men or the premises in respect of which he seeks registration are not suitable, it may refuse the application.  The refusal must state the grounds.  There is a provision for an appeal to the minister against refusals.

It is not lawful for persons to sell milk unless registered as a dairyman and unless the relevant premises is registered.  Registration may be cancelled on grounds of unsuitability.  It may also be cancelled on the grounds that the person has committed an offence under the relevant food safety legislation.

There are procedures in respect of the cancellation of registration.  Representations may be made.  In the case of certain convictions within a certain period of suspension of registration is automatic.

The register of dairymen is kept by the relevant authority and is evidence of its content. Subject to certain temporary exclusions, there are detailed regulations in relation to dairy and milk.

The Department may, on the application of the local authority, require that milk be sold under a particular designation in that district or part thereof.

The Minister may make regulations in respect of the inspection of animals in dairies by veterinary officers.  They may authorise specimens and samples to be taken.

Sale of Milk Designation

Regulations providing for the sale of milk for special designation provide for:

  • Grant of licences to sell milk under the designation;
  • The authorities to grant licences;
  • Forms of licences;
  • Duration;
  • Conditions of licences.

Fees shall be paid in respect of the special designation licence. Milk may not be sold under special designation by an unlicensed person.

Regulations may be made in relation to the descriptions to be applied to milk on sale. Action may be taken against milk purveyors where samples do not need the requisite standard.

Dairy Board

The Dairy Produce Marketing Act provided for the establishment of the Irish Dairy Board (“the Board”). The function of the Board is to promote the exportation of milk products, encourage, assist, co-ordinate and develop the exportation of milk products.

The Board consists of nominees of the Minister for Agriculture and certain cooperative societies and certain other parties.  There are provisions for certain elected members of the Board.

The Minister may make grants and guarantee loans for the Board. The Board may make provisions in relation to levies on milk, butter, butter stocks or milk stocks. Levies are recoverable as a debt due.

Persons liable to pay the Board levies must keep the requisite returns in relation to the acquisition and disposal of milk, butter or other matters subject of the levy.  The Board may inspect the relevant records.

The Board may make contributions towards cold storage of butter by creameries.

National Milk Agency

1994 legislation created the National Milk Agency (“the Agency”).  The Agency regulates the supply of milk for liquid consumption under the legislation.  The Agency comprises a chairman and members appointed or elected to represent the interests of producers, distributors, retailers and consumers of milk.

There are restrictions on the sale and supply of heat-treated milk. Contract for the supply of raw milk for heat treatment for liquid consumption between a producer and processor may be registered under the Act.  The contract must contain certain terms.

The Agency maintains a register of contracts, a register of producers and a register of processors.

There are provisions for levies payable by processors.  They must make a return in respect of the quantity of milk acquired from any registered producer or registered processor or produce on the processor’s own holding, the total quantity of milk acquired, and the quantity of heat-treated milk sold by the processor for liquid consumption.


A levy must replace the Agency in respect of the accounting period at a rate determined by each litre of milk acquired from a registered producer or produced on the processor’s own milk production holding. The levy due is a debt due, and the Agency may issue a certificate of indebtedness.

Registered persons must make returns.  Failure to make the requisite returns accurately may lead to the cancellation of the registration. They must also keep records on their premises which are open for inspection by the authority.

The Agency may publish matters in any register.  Individual returns may only be published for the purpose of prosecution.  There are provisions for registration on death and transfer of a business.

Inspectors of the Agency have free access to premises at which milk is believed to be sold, kept or exposed for sale or transported.  Milk tankers and other receptacles may be opened and inspected.  Samples may be taken n.  It is an offence to interfere with and impede an inspector.


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Draft Articles; The articles on this website are in draft form and are subject to further review for typographical errors and, in some cases, updating and correction. It is intended to include references to the sources of materials and acknowledgements in the final version. The content of articles with [EU] in the title and some of the articles in the section on Agriculture are a reproduction of or are based on European or Irish public sector information.

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