on Saturday, 22 September 2018 a New Zealand article reported that Raw Drinking Milk (RDM) regulations will be reviewed from November 2018. The review will determine whether changes need to be made to the system, and the results will be presented to Food Safety Minister Damien O'Connor mid 2019. Many are very unhappy with NZ’s current RDM system from both sides of the debate. There is a very long list of complaints. Many producers have closed down and are cut off from this niche market. Currently illegal sales from unregistered producers are also occurring, some fuelled by the frustration with MPI regulations. There has been an increase in unregistered sellers getting reported. MPI New Zealand currently considers the raw drinking milk its system produces as high-risk.
Over the years it has become clear that it is possible to produce low risk, pathogen-free RDM in a good system. RDM quality overall is only as good as the system that lays down the right controls, properly informs producers about risks, without imposing unnecessary restrictions.
Many producers in the RDM system may be doing an excellent job, however, it is often those farmers who come from a large industrial dairy background who may not be taking all the care required, because the system is not requiring it. In other words, dairy farmers who produce for both the industrial dairy market, and the RDM market, may not realise how vast the difference between the two systems can be. They may not realise that feed and farming practices suitable for the industrial dairy industry, are not suitable for producing RDM, because they can have an effect on the food safety of RDM. This is exacerbated when the system fail to specify these things in sufficient detail. Farmers need to focus on learning to identify the potential risks on the farm and how to mitigate them.
From studying other raw milk systems around the world, it is clear that the current RDM system in New Zealand has many potential pitfalls. ARMM recommends MPI consult with the Raw Milk Institute. Once MPI has done this, the pitfalls are likely to become very apparent, and a better, safer system can be implemented. Please give the raw milk movement a fair go, by implementing a fair system that respects both consumer choice and public safety, MPI.
New Raw milk regulations take effect today 1 March 2016 in New Zealand, with more to take effect on 1 Nov 2016. Based on the information from the Ministry for Primary Industries', Food Safety.govt.nz and Beehive.govt.nz websites (links at the bottom of the this blogpost), here is a summary of what the new regulations generally mean for the consumer. Food minister Jo Goodhew already announced the Government's decision on 18 June 2015.
"From 1 March 2016, raw milk can be sold directly from the farmer to consumers either at the farm or via home deliveries provided suppliers meet strict food safety criteria. These requirements aim to better manage the risks to public health, while recognising the demand for raw milk among urban and rural consumers."
Farmers will need to be registered with MPI to sell raw milk
Raw milk must be home-delivered or bought at the farm
Raw milk for home delivery is pre-ordered
Home deliveries require someone to be home to receive the milk and put it in the fridge
Collection points for the consumer will no longer be allowed
Labels must highlight the health risks and warnings to high-risk groups - such as the young, pregnant, elderly or immune compromised
Raw milk cannot be resold, it is for household use only
Consumers will be asked for contact details (name, address and phone number) along with the volume sold and date of sale
Unlimited quantity of raw milk can be bought (no more 5 litre per person per day limitations)
Please see the Resources for more details and information on how new regulation affects raw milk producers. The Ministry for Primary Industries has produced a set of educational material on social media about what they consider the risks of unpasteurised milk for pregnant women, young children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems, like this video.
New Zealand Food Safety Template for Cheesemakers as announced in May 2018