Before milk was readily available in local shops, vendors would go around the streets selling milk. But after an undulant fever broke out in 1887 due to unpasteurised milk as Sir Temi Zammit found out, it was recommended that an organised dairy industry should be formed to curb the spread of what was named the Mediterranean Fever.
Going back in time
In 1936, the building of a milk pasteurisation centre begun at Hamrun’s old railway station. According to local dairy provider, Benna, the first trials of pasteurisation began in Malta on 11th November 1937. “The official inauguration and opening of the Milk Centre took place on 11th May 1938 by His Excellency The Governor, Sir Charles Bonham Carter,” Benna’s ‘Our Heritage’ section on their website notes.
Sale and distribution
From then on, a delivery system was set up whereby pasteurised milk started being sold in pint bottles and distributed in electrically driven vans in Valletta, Sliema, Floriana and Hamrun.
However, everything came to a halt during the war, when animal fodder couldn’t be imported. “The Government offered the slaughter of goats to supplement the meagre supplies of food. In order to meet the shortages of milk, the activities of the Department were switched over to the packing and distribution of rationed quantities of powdered milk,” Benna continues.
Following the invasion of Sicily and Italy by Allied Forces, Malta was practically out of the war and come July 1943, the milk collection, pasteurisation and distribution kick-started once again.