Regulating Raw Milk in Australia

 

Making a case for regulated raw milk:

Countries like New Zealand, some USA states, England & Wales, Northern Ireland and many European countries have a regulated raw milk industry. 

The UK

  • Over 170 dairy farmers in England and Wales are registered to produce raw milk and other raw dairy products. Find them with Raw Milk Map UK and Ireland and Raw Milk Simkin.co.uk or Farmers Weekly or the FSA's list.
  • Hurdlebrook dairy in Somerset has been selling their raw milk for 20 years to the public, 15 of those years at London Farmers Markets. 
  • Hook and Son has been selling raw milk direct to the consumer since 2007 and now sell raw dairy at 20 farmers markets around London. Farmer Steve Hook say that demand jumped from 12 pints a week in 2007 to more than 5,000 in 2016. They have been selling raw milk online since 2010 and sales have increased five-fold with 3,000 pints ordered in a typical week. The milk sells for eight times the price of regular milk. According to a September 2017 story, Hook and Son is the largest licensed producer with a 80 dairy herd selling half a million pints of raw milk a year. Steve said he sells 10,000 pints a week and after 10 years there has not been a single incidence of food poisoning.
  • Bunkers Hill Dairy won a dairy farmer of the year award for diversifying with raw milk from a vending machine. It is one of the many popular raw milk tourism hotspots.
  • Smiling Tree Farm micro dairy makes a fair living milking only seven Jersey cows.
  • The Calf at Foot dairy is a popular high animal welfare raw dairy.
  • Ahimsa milk (slaughter-free milk) is Britain's most expensive milk but very popular. There is a long waiting list.
  • Evidence gathered in the UK show raw milk a low risk food.
  • The Royal family is known to consume raw milk for centuries.  
  • By the twenties only 1.5 percent of Britain's milk was pasteurised. By 1939, most of it was still raw and it remained so in rural areas well into the fifties. In 2016 one in every 10,000 pints of milk sold in the UK is unpasteurised.
  • In 2015 the Irish government decided to engage with producers and create regulated sales of raw milk for Northern Ireland

Australia 

  • Raw goat's milk is legal to produce and consume in four Australian states and is available from licensed producers. These are Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia.
  • Raw cheese production was legalised early 2015 in Australia. Landline story here.
  • Advocates of pasteurisation spin the myth that raw milk was phased out in the 1940s. In fact, raw milk remained legal until much more recently, as ‘town milk.’ In Victoria, it was available until 1990. In South Australia, the Tyler farm held a town milk licence until 2003 (source).
  • Moo View Dairy in South Australia had been supplying raw cow's milk for up to 500 customers for 17 years but was banned from supplying in July 2017. The Health Department claimed that in June there were higher than expected numbers of cryptosporidiosis (a form of gastroenteritis). According to Raw Milk Advocacy Association SA no trace of Cryptosporidium were found in the milk, read more here.
  • The Country Women's Association Victoria now "requests the State and Federal Governments to allow for the sale of raw milk for human consumption as long as it is from farms with quality control in place" (source)
  • Raw 'bath' milk was available in Victoria for around 10 years until it was required to contain a bittering agent from February 2015 to discourage consumption.
  • 1 in 6 Australians are saying goodbye to (processed) dairy according to a June 2016 CSIRO study. Three-quarters of the study were eschewing dairy to relieve symptoms like bloating, stomach cramps and wind.  
  • Australian children now have the highest rate of food allergy in the world according to this article.  
  • Melbourne is now considered food allergy capital of the world according to researchers. Research shows a reduced risk of asthma, allergies, eczema, ear infections and colds in children that drink raw milk.
  • Melbourne is now considered the thunderstorm asthma capital of the world.
  • Raw milk was blamed by the media for the death of a toddler on the Mornington Peninsula late 2014, read the Coroner's Findings here.
  • Also read this article about regulations in Australia and New Zealand: Fair Regulations and Production Standards for Raw Milk
  • Regulating raw milk enables a system that protects both consumers and producers. Not having a proper system sets dairy farmers up for failure and makes them targets of the system. See the following: Australian Dairy Farmer fined $50,000 and Moo View dairy banned.

New Zealand

  • New Zealanders were able to go to the farm gate and purchase raw milk for many years. New Raw Milk regulation came into effect in March 2016 and November 2016.
  • New raw milk dairies open in New Zealand to meet demand every few months despite very strict NZ regulations.
  • FSANZ (Food Safety Standards Australia and New Zealand) currently regulates New Zealand's raw milk industry.

The U.S.A.

  • About 9.4 million Americans drink raw milk according to a 2007 CDC FoodNet survey, based on 2010 census data (source). This number will be much larger now as raw milk has seen an explosion in popularity since.
  • 43 out of 50 USA states enable raw milk distribution and access (in some form) with Montana, Illinois and West Virginia being the latest.  See the Raw Milk Nation map. It is illegal in only 7 states.
  • 11 USA states legalise the retail sale of raw milk.  
  • Organic Pastures dairy in California has been selling their raw drinking milk directly to the consumer since 2000, now with a herd of 500 cows with a gross turnover of US$12 million. The business employ 105 people with 22 trucks going to 600 stores every week. They are also at 17 farmer's markets. See the product range here.
  • A large camel milk distribution company estimated that well over 10,000 autistic children in the USA were consuming raw camel milk.
  • Raw milk has never been illegal in California thanks the early form of the Mayo Clinic who produced certified raw milk and to the work of Alta Dena raw dairy and Organic Pastures raw dairy (more).

Other

  • Selling raw milk helps small farmers make a living.
  • Raw milk is a niche market for the small scale farmer in particular.
  • Only Australia, Scotland and Canada have a blanket ban on the raw milk from cows. In Scotland people have been purchasing it online from England. In Canada many herdshare arrangements provide milk despite being under prosecution.
  • Research into the human microbiome is booming. It is now certain that the human immune system lies in the gut. "These microbes influence the metabolism of foods, absorption of nutrients, production of hormones and neurotransmitters, and have a huge impact on the proper functioning of our immune system." (source).

 

Australia is currently one of only two countries globally that prohibit the sale of raw cow's milk for human consumption.  

 

All other countries allow raw milk to be supplied for human consumption, usually in conjunction with appropriate regulatory regimes that ensure the raw milk does not pose risks to the safety of those who choose to consume it.  Such regulatory regimes have been introduced across Europe, many US states, and even in New Zealand, and have demonstrated that legislation governing the way cows are managed, and how raw milk is produced, packed, tested and transported can ensure a safe and raw product for consumers.

We believe that all Australians should have the choice to consume safe, unadulterated raw milk. We can access many raw foods, including raw meats, seafood, eggs and raw cheese.  Raw cheese production was legalised in Australia early 2015.  Even raw goat's milk is legal to produce in 4 Australian states and available from licensed producers.  Yet raw cow's milk continues to be subject to prohibition, including through the 1 January 2015 introduction of regulations that it be tainted with a gagging agent to prevent human consumption.

Regulating the sale of safe raw milk will provide an effective avenue for small-scale farmers to access markets and sell their products directly to consumers.  Please help us lobby the government for change.


 

Banning raw milk is unnecessary and unworkable, as consumers will continue to find ways to get it. History tells us that prohibition does not work. 

More reasons to regulate raw milk in Australia:

  • Australia is blessed with conditions as good as any in the world for certified raw milk production.
    • Herds free of the major diseases of concern for human health.
    • Climate and soils allow grazing year round.
    • Education and infrastructure support services are world class.
  • Health conscious Victorians have much to gain from consuming raw milk when it is produced to the same demanding standards that apply in other countries.
buy raw milk australia victoria queensland
  • Few foods support our immune system as well as raw milk does.  Raw milk from healthy, grass-fed cows is a super-food, rich in nutrients and beneficial bacteria to keep out immune systems healthy and strong.
  • Raw milk is highly nutritious and has the potential to reduce illness and death from serious diseases—there is sound evidence that it protects against asthma, allergies, and respiratory infections, improves lactose tolerance, and is more easily digested by people with trouble digesting dietary fat. It is richer in available nutrients than pasteurised milk. Its vitamins have greater biological activity. 
  • People should be free to consume the foods they believe are most healthy.
  • A profitable, well supported addition to the dairy industry is ready to flourish, but is blocked by current legislation
  • Support innovative dairy producers looking to diversify with safe, high quality products, instead of driving a product like raw milk onto the black market, where safety is less assured. 
  • Banning raw milk is unnecessary and unworkable, as consumers will continue to find ways to get it. History tells us that prohibition does not work. 

Get Involved: support legalisation of Raw Milk. 


Australia's ban on raw milk is based on an incomplete risk assessment by Food Safety Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ), which greatly exaggerated the risks to public health of raw milk.

This is an excerpt from the Briefing Pack v2:

 

Managing Risk

Australia's ban on raw milk is based on an incomplete risk assessment by Food Safety Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ), which greatly exaggerated the risks to public health of raw milk.

  • FSANZ's contention that raw milk is too dangerous to consume is not supported by evidence - where are the grave public health disasters in countries where raw milk is legal?
  • FSANZ is out of step with international experts in this area.

The New Zealand government was not persuaded by the advice of FSANZ and CSIRO on raw milk, and is expanding raw milk sales in line with world best practise.

  • New Zealand is moving ahead, assisted by the latest rapid on-farm milk testing technology. Its raw milk is safer that other ready-to-eat foods, and at least as safe as pasteurised milk.

Victoria is not bound to follow the Australian Food Code on raw milk.  Its food choices are being decided on bad advice, based on unverified risk estimates.

Victoria is free to amend the Dairy Act, and if necessary the Food Act, to permit the sale of raw milk. Four states have already legalised raw goat's milk, using similar provisions.

There is considerable confusion about the risks posed by certified raw milk, compared with milk from dairy factories.

  • They are separate products. Neither is a threat to public health.
  • Milk produced to the highest standards of farming and hygiene is safe to drink in the raw form.
  • Certified raw milk reaches its consumers rapidly, often straight from the dairy. Properly refrigerated, it keeps for well over a week. There is no need for longer shelf life. Homogenisation is unwanted and unnecessary.

Videos:  Raw Milk Producer, Mark Tyler from South Australia have been in courtrooms since 2013 over unpasteurised milk.  Mark and raw milk producers Reg Matthews and Tyrone Brown advocate for a regulated raw milk industry that is in line with global best practise.


Audio:   Interview with Reg Matthews - an organic dairy farmer from Western Victoria. Reg is currently an activist against the Raw Milk ban laws in Victoria. 29/05/2015


Audio:  This interview is with Rebecca Freer from the Australian Raw Milk Movement. Rebecca has been a campaigner and activist against the Raw Milk ban laws in Victoria which has affected many organic dairy farmers and consumers.


Audio:  The sale of raw milk has made headlines in South Australia, with one dairy farmer fighting in the courts to continue selling unpasteurised milk and recently winning a Supreme Court Appeal. 2 November 2015. The farmer at the middle of the controversy, Mark Tyler, joined Louise Pascale for a chat. 



 
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