The Board of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) will decide next week whether the FSA should review the current rules governing the sale and marketing of unpasteurised, or raw, drinking milk and cream. This follows developments in the sale of raw milk which have seen producers using new routes of sale for their products, such as the internet and vending machines.
An outline of the current controls and possible approaches to managing the risks associated with raw milk and cream has been published today and will be considered by the FSA Board at its next meeting on 20 March.
Most milk and cream on sale in the UK is heat-treated to kill any harmful bacteria or virus that could be present. However, restricted sales of raw drinking milk and cream are allowed in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
There is an inherent food safety risk associated with drinking raw milk because germs normally killed by pasteurisation may be present. The sale of raw milk is therefore strictly controlled. Older people, infants and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to food poisoning, so are advised not drink it.
The FSA Board will be asked to approve a review of the current controls. The review process will include consultation with industry and consumer groups.
Background to the rules
Currently in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, unpasteurised cows’ milk can only be sold direct to consumers from farms or direct from the farmer. This includes routes such as farmers’ markets and milk rounds, or as part of a farm catering operation. The sale of raw milk is not allowed in Scotland.
Raw milk must be labelled to let consumers know that it has not been pasteurised and may contain organisms harmful to health. Farms selling raw cows’ drinking milk direct to consumers are also inspected more frequently than businesses producing all pasteurised milk.
Cheeses made with unpasteurised milk, are more widely available for sale, and must be labelled as being ‘made with raw milk’ or ‘made with unpasteurised milk’. Cheese is subject to production processes which should reduce the risk from pathogens, these processes include salting, acidification and maturation.
Board meeting agenda: 20 March 2012 Agenda and papers
I am truly amazed at how little the so called “experts” know about this issue, and how naive people are to think that these official idiots are acting in the interests of the general population. The simple truth is that animals raised on small farms, who are fed their natural grass diet, and are NOT pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics, do NOT contain harmful bacteria – which kind of explains how humans managed to drink milk for thousands of years without problems. It’s not until unnatural intensive farming practises are adopted that pasturization becomes necessary, simply because this farming method is inherently unhealthy. Are the professionals in this industry really this stupid? Or are they simply ignoring anything that might upset their current profitable status-quo? I believe a similar situation is occuring throughout the entire diet and health industry. Time will surely tell…
Well said, David Salter
The outcome was that FSA decided risk was unchanged & low, that some customers prefer raw milk, and current regulations in England & N. Ireland should continue, which decision is to be commended.
Foolish regulations have banned raw milk (cow’s & goat’s) in Scotland for several years.
Milk processing not only destroys potential pathogens (the most common of which rarely affects humans), but also destroys pro-biosis, leaving a dead pus-infected product which is probably less health-giving & more susceptible to attracting opportune pathogens.
I wonder how many milk-related food-poisoning outbreaks attributed to raw milk were actually provably due to raw milk at source, how many wrongly ascribed by assumption, how many due to careless infection in the supply chain, and how many, by comparison, due to (dead) Pasteurised milk.
Any possibility of human-pathogenic contamination at source could be easily monitored by QA methods; indeed it would be to the the general benefit of the population, & of raw milk producers in particular, to keep such records in order to fend off false accusations.
The wider effects of withdrawing a source of probiosis from the general population would be more difficult to assess, unless one looks at countries which do not regularly pasteurise, such as in the Indian sub-continent.