The Food Standards Agency (FSA) recently published guidance for producers of raw milk in response to its rise in popularity and the potential dangers it poses. To mark #WorldMilkDay, we highlight the safety and legal measures that producers must follow to protect the safety of consumers below.
Raw milk is unpasteurised and is processed directly from animal to bottle. It, therefore, carries a greater risk of containing harmful micro-organisms such as salmonella, campylobacter, E Coli and listeria.
Since 2015, as consumers look to buy more local and sustainable produce, sales of raw milk have soared. In four years up to 2018, litres sold increased from 600,000 to 3m, according to Farmers’ Weekly. This rapid growth saw a parallel increase in the number of customer illnesses linked to raw milk, with some requiring hospital treatment.
In response, the FSA carried out a consultation in early 2019. As part of that consultation, it worked closely with the Raw Milk Producers Association (“RMPA”) and other key stakeholders to develop a document to help producers ensure they are making unpasteurised milk as safe as possible.
Guidance for raw drinking milk producers
The guidance, which has been in place since 1 April 2020, outlines the safety measures raw drinking milk producers must follow, including:
- Anyone planning to sell raw drinking milk must first register as a food business with the FSA;
Farms already registered must notify the FSA of an intention to start selling raw drinking milk;
- An initial check and milk sampling by FSA Dairy Hygiene Inspectors and then on a six-monthly basis thereafter;
- Devising and implementing a Food Safety Management System (which is a legal requirement);
- Identifying controls to prevent that from happening;
- Periodic testing for specified pathogens and indicators of poor hygiene and disease; and
- Local authorities will be informed of proposed raw milk production by the FSA. However, producers must also contact the local authority, which may want to carry out its own inspection of the filling and bottling process.
The guidance does not extend to dairy products made using raw drinking milk, i.e. as part of the manufacturing process.
Partner and Head of Regulatory, Kathryn Gilbertson, has an outstanding reputation in the food safety sector. She regularly presents at high-profile events including for the Royal Society for Public Health and Institute of Food Science and Technology and is part of cutting-edge developments in the law, particularly regarding food safety.
If you are a raw milk producer, or a food manufacturer generally, and would like to know more about your food safety responsibilities as a business, or the inspector has called for a visit and you need our help, please do get in touch.