The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is asking for public feedback on options for the sale of raw milk to consumers.
MPI’s deputy director general Deborah Roche says any changes would need to balance people’s desire to buy and drink raw milk with the requirement that food safety risks are properly dealt with.
“It’s clear that there is still a demand for raw milk and that more and different options for its sale need to be considered. It’s important people have the opportunity to comment on this matter so that MPI can consider all viewpoints before making any recommendations for change. I would encourage anyone that has an interest in raw milk sales to consumers to have their say,” Ms Roche says.
Outbreaks of foodborne illness where raw milk consumption is a recorded risk factor have been consistently higher since 2009.
MPI consulted on this issue in late 2011 and the feedback showed that a sector of the community want to be able to buy raw milk for drinking, but more research was needed into the risks of illness from pathogens.
“Since then MPI has done a scientific assessment of the risks associated with drinking raw milk. The study showed that although on-farm practices could reduce the risk of illness from drinking raw milk, there are no hygiene practices that guarantee raw milk would be free of pathogens.
“The study also showed that the chance of outbreaks increases as the number of people drinking raw milk goes up. It estimated that urban people are five times more likely to develop Campylobacter from drinking raw milk, because they are less exposed to pathogens that occur naturally in a farming environment.
“It’s important to note that Government has not yet formulated a final policy on this matter. I am encouraging people who produce or buy raw milk, health professionals and the wider public to send us their views on this issue.”
The consultation closes on 8 July 2014.