3 things you need to know about the new raw milk rules
Next March, new rules on the sale of raw milk will come into force, despite strong opposition from scientists, health officials and groups like the NZ Veterinary Association. All say it poses a huge health risk in terms of foodborne illness and food safety.
The official line from the Ministry for Primary Industries is it does not recommend drinking raw milk. In particular, the young, frail, elderly, pregnant and immuno-compromised (ie, those whose immune system is weakened) should avoid consuming raw milk because they are at greatest risk from infection.
You’ll be able to buy as much raw milk as you like
Currently the law restricts sales of raw milk to the farm, with a limit of five litres per person. As of 1 March 2016, there will be no limit on the amount farmers can sell to an individual or the amount they can sell overall, but raw milk can only be bought directly from farmers for personal and household consumption. Raw milk cannot be on-sold to anyone else.
There will be new labels to explain the dangers
No matter how carefully animals are milked, there is always a possibility of harmful bacteria, such as Shiga toxin– producing E. coli, campylobacter and salmonella, being present in raw milk.
To ensure that all consumers are aware of this risk before buying raw milk, all point-of-sale areas, both physical and electronic, and all raw milk containers will be labelled with the following:
• Information about the risks around drinking raw milk;
• Ways to best reduce these risks, including storage, use-by dates, and who should avoid drinking raw milk (for example, the young, pregnant, elderly and immune-compromised).
You’ll have to hand over your contact details
Under the new requirements, farmers who sell raw milk to consumers must collect and hold all records of the sale including contact details, date of sale, and volumes sold for traceability and compliance reasons.
This means that consumers will be asked to provide contact details including their full name, address, and phone number when buying raw milk, which will allow for consumers to be easily contacted if a batch of milk fails hygiene and pathogen testing. Under the new policy, you won’t be able to get raw milk delivered unless you’re at home to receive it. To manage the food safety risks around home deliveries of perishable foods like raw milk, the MPI recommends consumers arrange for their raw milk to be delivered at times when someone is home to ensure the milk can be refrigerated straight away.
Raw milk needs to be stored at 4°C or less and people should discard raw milk if it has been left out of the fridge and has reached room temperature.