Food Safety Minister Kate Wilkinson today released a discussion document on options to continue farm gate sales of raw drinking milk.
“Selling small quantities of raw milk direct to people at the farm gate is a long standing tradition and there is support for that to continue,” Ms Wilkinson says.
“At present, the law lets farmers sell a daily maximum of five litres of raw milk from their farm to people to drink and give to their family.
“The discussion document focuses on how to provide for limited sales of raw milk for drinking, as the Government is not proposing to allow commercial-scale sale of this product at this time.”
Three options are being proposed, the third of which is MAF’s preferred option. They are:
• Maintain the current legal position;
• Make limited amendments to conditions of sale and retain the requirement for a Risk Management Programme (RMP); and
• Make limited amendments to conditions of sale and exempt farmers from an RMP for farm gate sales, but still require them to meet some animal health and hygiene requirements and to keep records of sales.
This consultation document is independent of the current Dairy Industry Restructuring (Raw Milk) Regulations 2001 made under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 and the Commerce Committee inquiry into the price of milk.
“It is important to remember that raw milk could contain organisms that can make you sick. Because raw milk is not subject to a heat step, like pasteurised milk, these organisms are able to survive and grow.
“For vulnerable populations, such as the very young, elderly, pregnant women and those with low immunity, it is important they and their carers are aware of the health risks and are advised against consuming raw milk and raw milk products.
“Making raw milk available to local rural families, who did not have access to pasteurised milk, was the original reason for farm gate sales. Over time the reasons consumers want access to raw milk have changed.
“This consultation provides the opportunity to update the legislation by balancing the rights of people who want to drink raw milk with the need to ensure that the community is protected from food-borne illness.”
“I invite all those interested to provide input about the options put forward.”
Submissions close on 5 December 2011.
A copy of the consultation document can be found at: http://www.foodsafety.govt.nz/elibrary/industry/farm-gate-raw-milk-sales/index.htm