Food Ministers take further action to prevent raw milk consumption
The Ministers who met last Friday at the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation have said they are “extremely concerned” about consumption of unpasteurised (raw) cow’s milk that is sold as ‘bath milk’, a cosmetic product labelled ‘not for human consumption’.
The Ministerial Forum said people who consume raw milk were “at an increased risk of infection causing severe illness and potentially death”. The Forum agreed that further urgent action is required, and that a national approach would be taken to prevent the consumption of raw cow’s milk.
Australian Food News reported in December 2014 that debate around the consumption of raw milk had flared after dairy company Mountain View Farm recalled its Organic Bath Milk product. The recall came after the product was implicated in the death of a three-year-old child, who had consumed it.
Working group to be formalised
The Forum said it would ask the Legislative and Governance Forum on Consumer Affairs to facilitate the development of a joint public health, food safety and consumer law solution that will deliver a consistent approach across all Australian jurisdictions. A working group will be formalised, and will initially look at urgent interim measures to protect public health.
Melbourne raw milk rally
The Ministers’ resolution to introduce a national approach to raw milk consumption came as a protest of about 150 people took place in Melbourne on Saturday 31 January 2015 to protest against new Victorian requirements to add a bittering agent to raw milk.
Raw milk can be sold in Victoria as a cosmetic product, but not a food product. The Victorian Government introduced the requirement for the bittering agent after the death of the three-year-old child in which consumption of raw milk was implicated.
Meanwhile, a South Australian dairy farmer faced a court in Adelaide late last week to defend a cow share scheme that allowed the farmer to distribute raw milk to the share-owners of the cows. In this case the farmer is contending that the consumers of the raw milk, as owners of the cows, are consuming milk the milk that belongs to them, and that the farmer therefore was not selling the raw milk. To sell raw milk would be in breach of the Food Standards Code, a breach of which would infringe the Food Act. The court hearing has been adjourned and it has been publicly reported that the case will resume in March 2015.
Primary production and processing requirements for approved raw milk cheese products
Meanwhile, the Ministers’ Forum has accepted an amendment to the Food Standards Code to allow the safe production of raw milk cheese products resulting from FSANZ Proposal P1022.
The Forum noted that the risk assessment shows that the processing that these raw milk cheese products undergo, together with the application of stringent microbiological standards, to ensure they are safe.