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Ref. Ares(2018)3414598 - 27/06/2018
Ref. Ares(2018)4147635 - 07/08/2018
Milk contribution from the European Union
Update as of 1 February 2017
Background, Receipts and Distributions to Date ................................................................ 1
Documentation Process ................................................................................................. 4
Testing of UHT Milk ....................................................................................................... 5
Mitigation Measures and Way Forward ............................................................................. 5
Annex 1: Label placed on milk cartons included in GFA ................................................................ 7
Annex 2: Consignments and Expiry Dates .................................................................................. 8
Annex 3: WFP Specifications for UHT Milk ................................................................................ 10
Annex 4: Photos from WFP’s Warehouse and Distributions at Schools .......................................... 15
Annex 5: Syria CONOPS Map .................................................................................................. 17
1. Background, Receipts and Distributions to Date
The objective for the project is to distribute the milk in the WFP supported schools together with the
fortified date bars across two academic years (2016-2017 and 2017-2018). WFP’s school activities take
place in schools located in areas that have a high prevalence of food insecurity, high number of IDPs
and low education indicators; during 2017 the programme aims to reach up to 750,000 children. The
project is in line with the objectives of the European Commission’s Implementing Decision (ECHO/-
ME/BUD/2016/01000), Financing the distribution of dairy products as part of the response to
humanitarian crises from the general budget of the European Union
, which state that “The humanitarian
actions financed under this Decision shall be implemented in order to address food and nutrition needs
of internally displaced persons, refugees and other vulnerable people affected by humanitarian crises”
According to Syrian regulations, it is generally not permitted to import liquid milk into Syria from non-
Arabic countries and WFP therefore had to work with all relevant authorities to obtain an exemption
and pave the way for the generous contribution from the European Union. Nonetheless, despite the
obtained approvals, the milk still had to undergo extensive testing as outlined in Section 3. Prior to the
departure of the vessel from the countries of origin, the producers also had to comply with
documentation requirements as outlined in Section 2.
Preliminary plans had called for the first batch of milk to arrive at the port of Lattakia in Syria by mid-
August in time for the commencement of the new academic year in September. However, due to
challenges faced with Syrian customs regulations, the first shipment did not arrive into Lattakia until
the latter half of October 2016. Syria has a strong regulatory framework related to food, and therefore
upon arrival into Syria, the UHT milk underwent thorough testing (details in Section 3) before it was
possible to transfer the milk to WFP warehouses in late November.
The quantities received by month are outlined below; however, the month refers to when the batch is
received at the port level, not when all required testing had been completed and the commodities
transferred to WFP warehouses for onward dispatch. It should be noted that WFP is not allowed to
move the commodities from the port to WFP’s warehouses until all documents have been properly
legalized and submitted to the veterinary directorate.
Net quantity received (MT)
as of 30 January 2017
The first quantities received in October and November were scheduled for almost immediate
distribution. However, due to the aforementioned delays, some of the quantities were no longer
compliant with Syrian regulations, which have two stipulations related to shelf life:
1) The shelf life of UHT milk in Syria is six months compared to nine months in European Union
2) Food items such as UHT milk need to arrive in Syria with at least half of its shelf life remaining.
The majority of the milk that arrived in the first batches had a “best by date” of late January or early
February and consequently was not compliant with Syrian regulations. As a consequence of the short
shelf life of the initial batches, WFP was negotiating and dealing with no less than six different
governmental ministries, the Prime Minister’s office as well as departments at the governorate level.
Actors included Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Local Administration, Ministry of of Health,
Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reforms, Ministry of Internal Trade, and the Customs Department
of the Ministry of Finance which enforces the food import laws amongst other key actors.
Following extensive efforts, the milk was approved for
usage despite the shorter shelf life. Hence, distributions
started in the schools during December as seen in the
photo as well as in the larger photo gallery in Annex 4.
During December 2016 and January 2017, an estimated
239,000 children in four different governorates
(Damascus, Tartous, Hama and Homs) received milk
together with the fortified date bars. A carton with 200 ml
of UHT milk provides 120 kcal, while an 80 g fortified date
bar provides 340 kcal for a combined 460 kcal per school
day or almost 30 percent of the daily energy requirement
for school children of that age.
In spite of the successful distributions, there were concerns that WFP
would not be able to distribute all the milk with a “best by date” of late
January or early February, particularly as Syrian schools observe a winter
break during the month of January. This prompted the need to identify
an alternative way of distributing the milk to school age children to avoid
any possible destruction of the commodities and to ensure effective use
of the contribution. Following extensive consultations with WFP’s
nutrition advisor and the Nutrition Sector, a decision was reached to
include some of the milk into its standard food rations to reach families
with children with the understanding that the distribution of milk under
the general food assistance (GFA) modality is likely to be a one-off
mitigation action as a direct response to an unforeseen circumstance.
WFP, as an active participant in the Nutrition Sector, is cognizant of the
potential risk of milk being utilized as breast milk substitute. Hence, the
situation was shared with the Sector, and in close coordination and
agreement with the Sector a number of preventive measures were put
in place to minimize the risk and to ensure that the donation would be
used only by the intended beneficiaries, i.e. children between the ages
of five and 12. The following measures were implemented to sensitize
both the partners that would distribute the food rations as well as the families that would receive the
Large adhesive labels advising the specific age group targeted by the
milk were placed on each distributed carton of milk. The label used
both visual and written communication in Arabic stating that the milk
is only to be consumed by children between five and 12 years of age.
The label can be seen in the photo as well as in Annex 1.
WFP’s cooperating partners carrying out the actual distributions were
sensitized by WFP staff, so that they in turn could advise beneficiaries
on the proper usage of the milk. WFP staff maintained a high level of
vigilance at the distribution points in Aleppo, Homs, Hama and Tartous
to ensure that beneficiary families received clear instructions.
Regular post distribution monitoring is ongoing and will also follow-up
on compliance with distribution protocols.
To date, the majority of this milk has been used for the response in Aleppo, where WFP has scaled up
its response to the dire situation in the city following the siege and long unrest. An estimated 145,000
children have so far benefitted from the distributions done within the framework of GFA. While
distribution to children within the framework of the GFA programme was not covered by the proposal,
it is nonetheless in line with the objectives stated in the European Commission’s Implementing Decision
focusing on vulnerable Syrians.
A summary of receipts to date as well as distributions in schools and through general food assistance
can be seen in the table below.
Quantity (in MT) Percentage
Total quantity of milk received as of 31 January
Total quantity of milk distributed in schools
Total quantity distributed to children age 5-12 under
general food assistance (GFA)
Quantity still remaining to be distributed
The quantity that still remains to be distributed as of 31 January has vastly different expiry dates (as
seen in Annex 2). All quantities with an expiry date of 12 February and onward will be distributed within
the framework of the school meals programme.
2. Documentation Process
There is an extensive documentation process required in order to bring the milk to Syria. As per the
agreement, the milk was procured in Ireland and Portugal respectively.
For the shipment from Ireland, both the shipment documents and commercial documents need to be
stamped by the following authorities in the exact order:
1) The company in Ireland;
2) Chamber of Commerce of Ireland;
3) Arab-Irish Chamber of Commerce in Ireland;
4) Union Chamber of Commerce in Damascus; and
5) Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in Damascus
For the milk shipment from Portugal two parallel processes must take place: one for shipping
documents, and another for the commercial invoices, as the shipment originates from Portugal, while
the supplier is registered in the Netherlands. The approval process (legalization) is as follows:
For the shipping documents (from Lactogal)
1) The company in Portugal;
2) Chamber of Commerce in Portugal;
3) Arab-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce in Portugal;
4) MOFA in Portugal;
5) Syrian Embassy in France (this Embassy covers Portugal);
6) Union Chamber of Commerce in Damascus; and
7) MOFA in Damascus
For the commercial invoices (from Hoogwegt)
1) The company (Hoogwegt) in the Netherlands;
2) Chamber of Commerce of the Netherland;
3) MOFA in the Netherlands;
4) Syrian Embassy in Brussels (this Embassy covers the Netherlands);
5) Union Chamber of Commerce in Damascus, and
6) MOFA in Damascus
3. Testing of UHT Milk
As explained in Section 1, imported UHT milk is subject to an extensive regime of tests to ensure
adequate food safety measures. The types of tests can be grouped into three different categories as
illustrated in the table below.
Total plate count
color, taste, texture,
impurities and foreign
Fungi visual test
The required microbiological testing of UHT milk requires at least 21 days at the laboratory in Syria.
In recognition of the extensive testing regime and strict Syrian standards and regulations, the Food
Quality & Safety team located at WFP’s regional bureau in Cairo and at headquarters in Rome developed
a detailed specification sheet for UHT milk to be imported into Syria. The document can be seen in
4. Mitigation Measures and Way Forward
Based on the lessons learned from the initial received batches, WFP has already taken several steps to
mitigate any further challenges.
The Syria Country Office is currently in dialogue with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to:
Streamline and clarify the documentation requirement for the legalization process;
Reduce some steps to shorten the overall processing time; and
Adopt the European standard shelf life for milk (nine months) rather than the Syrian standard shelf
life (six months) for the milk donated by the European Union to WFP’s operations in Syria.
Furthermore, as highlighted in Section 2, WFP Syria is currently engaged in discussions with the two
suppliers in order to:
Provide consignments in large lots with the same expiry date, rather than numerous small lots of
varying expiry dates which cause significant delays due to the extensive testing regime (as can be
seen in Annex 2, the current stock has 46 different expiry dates); and
Improve the consistency and accuracy of documentation to avoid delays in custom clearance
Another important step has been the development of the specification sheet to ensure that suppliers
are fully aligned and aware of all Syria standards and regulations.
Annex 1: Label placed on milk cartons included in GFA
Annex 2: Consignments and Expiry Dates
Annex 3: WFP Specifications for UHT Milk
Technical Specifications for
Specification code: DAIMLK010
V16.0 is the 1st version of WFP
specification for Sterilized milk
Date of issue: 01/06/2016
This standard prescribes the requirements for UHT milk
that WFP receives from donors or purchases then
distributes to beneficiaries.
2. STANDARDS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The specification of UHT milk was elaborated after consulting the standards of potential recipient countries,
of international regulations and the requirements of country of origins. Since the standards and regulations
of countries of origins (such as EU countries) and recipient countries are quite variable, the first version of
the specification illustrates principle requirements and controls to ensure that the products will be accepted
by main potential recipient countries. Further update would be conducted to make the specification fully fit
for WFP operations.
The following referenced standards are indispensable for the application of this specification. For dated
references, only the edition cited applies. For undated references, the latest edition of the referenced
standard (including any amendments) applies.
CAC/MRL 02-2006, Maximum residue limits for veterinary drugs in foods
CAC/RCP 57, Code of hygiene practice for milk and milk products
CODEX STAN 1: General standard for the labelling of pre-packaged foods
CODEX STAN 192, Codex general standard for food additives
CODEX STAN 193, Codex general standard for contaminants and toxins in foods
CODEX STAN 206, General Standard for the Use of Dairy Terms
Milk and Milk products_ Codex second edition, 2011.
Products are Sterilized Milk that are covered by the provision of this specification.
3.2 Raw cow milk
The normal mammary secretion of cow obtained from one or more milkings without either addition to it or
extraction from it, intended for consumption as liquid milk or for further processing.
Process by which milk fat globules are finely divided and interspersed to form a homogeneous product so
as to prevent the fat from floating on the surface and adhering to the inside of the container.
3.4 Commercial sterilization
The application of heat at high temperatures for a time sufficient to render milk or milk products
commercially sterile, thus resulting in products that are safe and microbiological stable at room
4. PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS
4.1 General requirements
The products covered by this specification shall comply with the Maximum Levels for contaminants that are
specified for the product in the General Standard for Contaminants and Toxins in Food and Feed
The milk used in the manufacture of the products covered by this specification shall comply with the
Maximum Levels for contaminants and toxins specified for milk by the General Standard for Contaminants
and Toxins in Food and Feed
(CODEX STAN 193-1995) and with the maximum residue limits for veterinary
drug residues and pesticides established for milk by the CAC.
It is recommended that the products covered by the provisions of this specification be prepared and handled
in accordance with the appropriate sections of the General Principles of Food Hygiene
the Code of
Hygienic Practice for Milk and Milk Products (CAC/RCP 57-2004) and other relevant Codex texts
such as Codes of Hygienic Practice and Codes of Practice. The products should comply with any
microbiological criteria established in accordance with the Principles and Guidelines for the Establishment
and Application of Microbiological Criteria Related to Foods
4.1.3 Food additives
No additives are allowed.
4.1.4 Fit for human consumption guarantee
Suppliers shall have to check the quality of the products and guarantee that the products covered by the
provision of this specification are ‘fit for human consumption’
4.2 Specific requirements
4.2.1 Product type
The products shall be made from cow milk that is homogenised, standardised to a specific level of fat and
processed to be commercially sterile. Fat level and type of milk (Full fat milk, Fat reduced milk, or Fat free
milk) are specified in the contract.
The products shall also comply with all requirements from table 1.
4.2.3 Shelf life
The products shall retain table 1 qualities for at least 6 months from date of manufacture when stored dry
at ambient temperatures prevalent in the country of destination.
The products covered by the provision of this specification must be packed in appropriate packaging which
safeguard the hygienic, nutritional, technological, and organoleptic qualities of the product. The containers,
including packaging material, shall be made of substances which are safe and suitable for their intended
use. They should not impart any toxic substance or undesirable odour or flavour to the product.
5.1 Primary packaging
Unless otherwise specified in the contract, the products shall be packed in only one type of packaging such
as Tetra Pak® Aseptic, Combibloc® Aseptic, or equivalent. Net volume and any additional requirement are
specified in the contract. Filled Milk should occupy at least 90% of the internal volume capacity of the
5.2 Secondary packaging
The cartons used to pack the primary packaging of the products shall be fit for export and multiple-harsh
handing. The cartons for 15kg of products (including primary packaging) should meet the following
- Number of ply: 5
- Total grammage: MIN. 870 gsm
- Edge Crush Test: MIN. 12 kN/m
Carton must be fully filled and glued. Secondary packaging (e.i. cartons with full product) must pass the drop
test as per ISTA 2A standard (after each drop, there shall be no rupture or loss of contents).
Two percent empty, marked cartons (included in the price) must be sent with the lot.
Unless fully shrink wrapped pallets are used, dunnage (of strong sheets such as carton, plywood, etc.) should
be placed inside each container at every three layers of cartons to provide the required stacking strength.
In addition protecting material like air bag, carton, polystyrene, can be used.
Note: For shipping containers, unless fully shrink wrapped pallet are used, and unless otherwise specified in
the contract, kraft paper must be adhered to all internal sides, door, and floor of container. Kraft paper also
need to be placed on the top of packaging. Desiccant needs to be placed/laid in container at appropriate
location in order to absorb moisture. Supplier needs to use high quality desiccant and calculate the quantity
of desiccant based on:
- Efficiency of desiccant
- Length of time in transit in container
- Container capacity
Supplier needs to provide in the offer the type of desiccant and quantity to be used for the consignment. If
silica gel is used, 15 bags of at least 1 kg each must be placed in each 20 feet container.
The making of the products shall comply with the provisions of the General Standard for the Labelling of
Prepackaged Foods (CODEX STAN 1-1985) and the General Standard for the Use of Dairy Terms (CODEX
Unless otherwise specified in the contract, the products covered by the provision of this specification must
have below making:
Name of the product (as per contract requirement
Net content (ml)
Name and address of the supplier (including country of origin)
Best use before date / expiration date (as per contract requirement
Recommended storage condition: stored dry at ambient temperatures
Additional marking is as per contractual agreement.
The products shall be stored under dry, ventilated and hygienic conditions and far from all source of
8. ANALYTICAL REQUIREMENTS
As per contractual agreement, WFP will appoint an inspection company that will check if quality and
characteristics of the products match the requirements specified in table 1. Additional tests may be defined
in case further quality assessment is required. The tests in table 1 will be performed in addition to analysis
performed by supplier according to his own sampling plan.
Table 1: List of compulsory tests and reference methods
Fat free milk
Fat (%, m/m)
0.5 – 3.0
MAX. 0.5 ISO 1211
ISO 1211 and ISO
Milk solids not fat (%, m/m)
Acidity (expressed in lactic acid) (%,
Alcohol test (68% ethanol)
Absent in 1g
Absent in 25g
Total Plate Count (cfu/ml)
Aflatoxin M1 (mcg/kg)
Normal in colour, smell, taste and
10 Organoleptic characteristics
Homogenous and free from impurities examination
and foreign matters.
11 Net content (ml)
As per contractual agreement
Annex 4: Photos from WFP’s Warehouse and Distributions at Schools
Milk arriving at the Port of Lattakia
Milk being loaded at WFP warehouse
The packaging of the milk
A WFP staff member visits Abi Zaid Al Ansari elementary school in
Tabbaleh neighbourhood in Damascus where 300 school children
received milk for the first time, as well as locally produced date bars.
Eight year old Ahmed says “Milk is my favorite drink. I learned that if I
Eight-year-old Zeina (left) learns about the importance of milk for her
drink it every day, it will help me to concentrate in school and succeed in
growth and success in school. “Milk is good for me. It gives me calcium
for my bones and helps me to focus on my learning,” she said.
Students at Abi Zaid Al Ansari elementary school in Tabbaleh neighbourhood in Damascus hold up their milk cartons
Annex 5: Syria CONOPS Map
The map was developed to illustrate how the milk travels from the European Union to Syria and is stored in WFP warehouses before being
dispatched to the schools for distribution to the school children. The map was produced in 2016 and therefore some of the indicated figures
may have changed slightly.
During the school year 2016-2017, WFP targets up to 750,000 children. By the spring of 2018 (for the 2017-2018 academic year), the planned
target is one million children.