Warning for consumers after non-compliant raw milk investigated

Unregistered raw milk suppliers have been ordered to stop selling their products after a year-long investigation by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

Some suppliers were putting consumer health at risk, MPI said.

Compliance staff executed search warrants at non-compliant raw drinking milk suppliers in Auckland, Hawke’s Bay, Manawatu, Horowhenua, Nelson and Southland earlier this week.

MPI manager of food compliance Melinda Sando said the purpose of the visits was to gather evidence and to allow further investigation of non-compliant sales.

“We believe that the suppliers we visited today are operating outside of the regulatory framework. By not adhering to the rules for selling raw drinking milk, they are putting consumer health at risk.

“There have been multiple instances in the past of people getting sick after drinking raw milk from some of these suppliers. We can’t let this continue.’’

She said raw milk was a risky product as it was not pasteurised to remove bacteria, including E.coli, listeria and campylobacter.

“These types of bacteria most commonly cause severe diarrhoea and vomiting, but occasionally some have been linked with more serious complications that include miscarriage, paralysis, meningitis and serious kidney problems in children. Raw milk may also be a source of tuberculosis.’’

Ms Sando said that the ministry was not saying people cannot drink raw milk.

‘‘What we are saying is that when people do choose to drink raw unpasteurised milk, they’re able to make that choice with a degree of confidence that the milk they’re consuming is produced within the regulatory framework.’’

She advised people to purchase from MPI-registered suppliers.

All suppliers were consulted about the introduction of new raw milk regulations which came into effect on March 1, 2016, Ms Sando said.

“The suppliers need to stop selling unregulated product immediately. They’ll be able to resume selling once they have met all requirements to make them compliant.

“We hope they put human health first. It’s the responsible thing to do.”

 

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