Woman fined $53,000 for raw milk sales
A WOMAN has been fined a total of $28,000 and ordered to pay professional costs of $25,000 after she pleaded guilty to four charges relating to the sale of unpasteurised or ‘raw’ milk.
Julia Ruth McKay from Bungonia was fined last month for selling unpasteurised milk and for conducting a food business without a licence.
She also pleaded guilty to selling unpasteurised milk that exceeded acceptable microbiological limits for standard plate counts and Listeria.
NSW Food Authority CEO Dr Lisa Szabo said Food Authority officers found that Ms McKay was operating a ‘herd sharing’ business whereby a person enters into a contract and purchase shares in a herd or individual cow and consequently receives raw milk produced by that herd.
“Claims that this doesn’t constitute the sale of food are false, the operation of a herd share arrangement can constitute food for sale under the Food Act,” Dr Szabo said.
“Milk for sale in NSW needs to be licensed with the NSW Food Authority to ensure it is subject to the stringent safety requirements of the Dairy Food Safety Scheme.”
Dr Szabo said statistics show that raw milk is a high food safety risk.
“Nationally and internationally raw milk products account for a small proportion of sales but a very large proportion of outbreaks,” she said.
“Unpasteurised milk could contain harmful bacteria such as E.coli, Salmonella and Listeria that can result in illness or even death.
“This is why we undertake this action, to protect people.”
The prosecution resulted from an investigation of Ms McKay by the NSW Food Authority in 2015 where samples of raw milk taken from an animal that was part of her herd share arrangement returned positive for the presence of Listeria.
The operation was immediately shut down by the NSW Food Authority and the Prohibition Order remains in place.
Dr Szabo said the NSW Food Authority is continuing its work in this area of illegal under the counter sales of raw milk. Those selling raw milk in NSW can be reported to the NSW Food Authority on 1300 552 406.