A new proposal by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) could see restrictions on the sale and production of raw milk products in Australia relaxed.
Proposal P1007 addresses the problem of whether the current Food Standard Code – Dairy Standard (Standard 4.2.4) is too restrictive and whether alternative methods of processing or producing raw milk products will offer an acceptable level of public health and safety.
It also seeks to standardise regulations on raw milk products in Australia. Currently, regulations differ from state to state. FSANZ hopes that by providing consistent regulations for the sale of imported and Australian-made raw milk products, domestic raw milk producers will be better able to compete with international producers.
Raw milk products are divided into three categories, each based on the possibility of pathogens being present in the finished product and the potential public health risk these products pose.
Category 1 products include extra hard grating cheeses. Their low moisture content and long maturation make them as safe as pasteurised cheeses, according to FSANZ.
Products that may allow the survival, but not growth, of pathogens that could be in raw milk are defined as Category 2 products. These products will be subject to a combination of control measures and verification activities to ensure they meet standards.
Category 3 products include raw drinking milk and high-moisture content cheeses. Unlike Category 2 products, these may support the growth of pathogens from the raw milk.
FSANZ said Category 1 and 2 products maintain a low level of public health risk, providing they are subject to specific production and processing controls.
Category 3 products are considered to present too high a public health risk to be permitted for sale in Australia.
FSANZ is proposing changes to the Code that will involve permitting the production and import of Category 1 and 2 products in Australia.
Despite Category 3 products not being allowed for sale in Australia, consumers can currently purchase raw goat’s milk in NSW and WA. This exemption will be reviewed separately.
The FSANZ Board is expected to review the final report on Proposal P1007 in March.