The Ministry for Primary Industries is reminding consumers to take care when drinking raw unpasteurised milk because raw milk is a high-risk food.
The ministry was aware of several recent recalls of raw milk, the ministry’s director animal and animal products, Dr Paul Dansted, said.
It was important that consumers remember and understand the risks with drinking raw milk, which is milk that has not been pasteurised (heat treated) to kill harmful bacteria such as Campylobacter, Listeria and toxin-producing strains of E. coli (STECs) which potentially are present in the milk.
In 2014, the ministry introduced rules which require farmers selling raw milk to meet food safety requirements.
But consumers still needed to take care when drinking raw milk, Dr Dansted said.
“Some people who drink raw milk may not always fully understand the risks and don’t realise that there is the possibility of getting sick from the harmful bacteria in the milk.
“Pregnant women, young children (particularly babies), the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems should not drink raw milk as they are at greatest risk of getting sick and the consequences for them can be more severe, and in some cases can lead to death,” says Dr Dansted.
“No matter how carefully the animals are milked, there is always a risk that harmful bacteria can get into the milk. There is no way of telling by taste, sight or smell if the milk you are drinking contains harmful bacteria, so we recommend that people heat their raw milk until just boiling (or to 70°C for one minute) before drinking it.”
Keeping raw milk refrigerated (4°C or less) also reduces the risk of any harmful bacteria in the milk growing to levels which make people sick when they drink it.
Consumers are advised to discard the milk if it has been left out of the fridge for two hours or more and drink it by its use-by date.
People who choose to drink raw milk should make sure they are getting their milk directly from the farmer and are only buying it for personal and household consumption, Dr Dansted said.
Source: Ministry for Primary Industries.