Food Standards Agency
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FSA Board discussion on raw milk

The Board of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is set to discuss the conclusions of the FSA’s review of raw drinking milk controls when they meet on Wednesday 15 July 2015.

A Board paper published today, ahead of the FSA’s July board meeting, sets out the findings of the comprehensive review of the regulations that control the sale of unpasteurised, or raw, drinking milk and asks Board members to decide on future controls.

The review’s main conclusions are that:

  • the risk associated with raw drinking milk consumption, except for vulnerable groups, is acceptable when appropriate hygiene controls are applied
  • the current restriction on sales of raw milk should remain in place as there is uncertainty that consumer protection can be maintained if the market for raw milk is expanded
  • risk communication could be improved, particularly for vulnerable groups, and changes to the labelling requirements are proposed to reflect this

The review does not rule out future relaxation of the raw milk controls if the industry can show a high level of compliance with the current rules. However, evidence from the review currently indicates uneven compliance across the raw drinking milk sector. It therefore concluded that it is not appropriate to introduce such a change at this time.

Steve Wearne, Director of Policy at the FSA, said: 'The review of the raw milk regulations has been a thorough and detailed process, which has weighed up all of the relevant evidence and also the opinions of a wide-range of stakeholders. Throughout the review we have sought to balance the FSA’s duty of consumer protection with other priorities including consumer choice.

'We believe that maintaining the current provisions for sale, with the possibility of wider access in the future, continues to strike this balance. People who want to drink raw milk can continue to purchase it from registered producers, while consumer protection is maintained. We are asking the Board to approve these proposals and look forward to the discussion at the next FSA board meeting.'

The FSA reviewed the current controls to make sure they are clear, consistent and control the public health risks associated with raw milk. The review covered England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Sale of raw drinking milk is banned in Scotland.

The consultation considered a number of options. These ranged from removing restrictions on sales through to introducing a requirement for all milk to be pasteurised prior to sale.

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