Raw milk low risk: UK government agency contradicts Australia

 

After lengthy safety investigations, the UK Food Standards Agency concluded that raw drinking milk is a low-risk food, contradicting advice from Australia’s food authority, which says raw milk is too dangerous to consume.

Public health evidence gathered from the UK by the FSA showed that over the 12 years to 2014, only 9 illnesses were associated with raw drinking milk. 

In assigning a low risk to raw drinking milk, the FSA drew attention to much higher priorities in public health, such as the 280,000 Campylobacter-related illnesses each year that are not connected with raw drinking milk.

FSANZ’s projections, which were not verified against real-world data, are still being used to justify a nationwide ban on raw cows’ milk in Australia.

Over the 12 years, that’s more than 3 million food poisoning illnesses from a single pathogen, versus just 9 illnesses from raw drinking milk.

The FSA’s safety finding discredits computer modelling by Australia’s food agency, Food Standards Australia and New Zealand, in 2009. On the basis of its modelling, FSANZ warned that raw milk is unsafe.

FSANZ’s projections, which were not verified against real-world data, are still being used to justify a nationwide ban on raw cows’ milk in Australia.

In contrast to FSANZ’s rubbery, untested estimates, the FSA studied public health records — UK and European illness data for raw drinking milk. Here is part of the FSA report:

Public health impact

5.1 The FSA strategic plan to 2020 makes it clear that FSA science should focus on the biggest risks and challenges to consumers’ current and future interests and be focused on areas where it can make the biggest impacts. The potential hazards associated with RDM are well categorised and, while it is acknowledged that there is a potential for severe illness and illness may be under-reported, the very small number of cases of reported illness (9 cases; autumn 2014) in the last 12 years indicates the likelihood of illness occurring is relatively low. Also RDM is a niche product consumed by a small group of consumers. The potential public health impact associated with RDM consumption must be considered alongside other strategic priorities such as Campylobacter where there are an estimated 280,000 cases of illness each year.

http://www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/fsa150704.pdf

raw milk australia

ARMM’s translation: We have a good understanding of the potential hazards of raw drinking milk. When produced according to the regulations, raw drinking milk causes few illnesses. Furthermore, raw drinking milk is a niche product, not widely consumed. Consequently, it is a low risk to public health. The FSA should direct its attention to much greater health risks, such as Campylobacter in foods other than raw milk, which causes about 280,000 cases of illness each year, dwarfing the 9 cases over 12 years from all pathogens, attributable to raw drinking milk.

The New Zealand government did not respond to FSANZ’s scaremongering by banning raw milk. Instead it updated its regulations for production and distribution of raw milk in March 2016. Kiwi consumers can now buy as much raw milk as they need for personal and household use.

http://mpi.govt.nz/food-safety/food-safety-for-consumers/is-it-safe-to-eat/raw-milk/raw-milk-regulations/

 

ARMM recommends that FSANZ withdraw its flawed risk assessment, and replace it with broader safety studies like those done by FSA.

A lot of raw milk has been drunk in Australia and New Zealand over many decades. Are the public health consequences anything like FSANZ’s dire predictions?

Obviously not.