Prepare starter cultures in dairy processing

Business Sectors (Suites): Dairy
Developed by: Improve
Approved on: 30 Mar 2023


This standard covers the skills and knowledge needed to prepare starter cultures in dairy processing in food and drink manufacture and/or supply operations. Starter cultures are integral to the production of a wide range of fermented dairy products including cheese, yoghurt and crème fraiche.

 You will need to be able to prepare the equipment, ingredients and resources needed to prepare a dairy starter culture. You must also be able to work within the limits of your responsibility and take action to address problems including understanding how the green circular economy supports repeated use of resources and products within your organisation. 


 This standard is for you if you work in food and drink manufacture and/or supply operations and are involved in preparing starter cultures in dairy processing. 

Performance criteria

You must be able to:

1. prepare to control equipment and associated compliance documentation to prepare starter cultures
2. use the correct personal protective equipment
3. Selection of the correct starter culture and the weight/volume
4. check organisational standard operating procedures and product recipes relating preparing starter cultures
5. check that all necessary plant, equipment, plans for production, ingredients and services are available and fit for use
6. check documentation to ensure plant is ready for use
7. start up and control dairy processing equipment following organisational standard operating procedures
8. work at a pace suitable to meet the production plan
9. make adjustments to equipment to maintain organisational product specifications
10. take representative samples for testing adhering to the organisational sampling plan within the limits of your responsibility
11. evaluate faults for impact on product and processing equipment operations within the limits of your responsibility
12. make dairy product available to next stage of processing or packaging
13. prepare for changeover of product recipe or packaging in line with organisational requirements
14. prepare to handover process on shift changeover in line with organisational requirements
15. deal with product waste in line with legislation and organisational requirements
16. liaise with relevant personnel to prepare plant for shutdown
17. process and route interphase product
18. establish and maintain effective spoken, written and electronic communication with relevant people

Knowledge and Understanding

You need to know and understand:

 1. the food safety aspects of preparation of starter cultures including HACCP, TACCP and VACCP

2. the dairy sciences underpinning preparation of starter cultures
3. regulatory and organisational requirements relating to preparation of starter cultures
4. the tools and equipment needed to prepare starter cultures
5. health and safety aspects associated with the process
6. the personal protective equipment required when preparing starter cultures and why it is important to use it
7. how to maintain communication with relevant people when preparing starter cultures
8. organisational specifications and equipment standard operating procedures relating to the preparing starter cultures
9. the importance of adhering to quality specifications when preparing starter cultures
10. how to control temperature when preparing starter cultures
11. why and how to control processing equipment used to prepare starter cultures
12. how to adjust processing in response to product quality tests
13. the actions required to standardise milk to organisational requirements
14. common sources of contamination during processing, how to avoid these and what might happen if this is not done
15. how to deal with product that can be re-cycled or re-worked
16. the hygienic design of plant
17. How the manufacture process and support operations  use digital technologies rather than paper based systems to monitor and control production


Scope Performance

Scope Knowledge





Links To Other NOS

External Links

Version Number


Indicative Review Date

30 Mar 2028





Originating Organisation


Original URN


Relevant Occupations

Food Preparation Trades, Manufacturing Technologies, Process Operatives, Process, Plant and Machine Operatives

SOC Code



Dairy; process; starter; cultures; food; drink