Cold-pressed raw milk hits the shelves in Australia, but what of demand in Ireland?

As unpasteurised raw milk in Australia gets the green light from food safety authorities there, Irish government officials may be working on a draft set of regulations for its production and sale here.

The sale of raw, or unpasteurised milk, was banned in Ireland in 1996. However, 10 years later it was overturned as EU hygiene legislation permitted the sale of raw milk.

Currently there is no legislation against selling untreated milk in Ireland. Raw milk is defined as “milk that has not been pasteurized.”

Since the 2006 EU ruling, the debate over raw milk and whether it is unsafe or, indeed, better nutritionally has continued.

Raw Milk Ireland make-up Irish farmers, food sellers, food organisations and consumers who support the right to sell and produce raw milk in Ireland.

It said it has begun working with government officials to help to draft a set of regulations for the production and sale of raw drinking milk in Ireland.

“All producers selling in excess of 30L of milk per week will now register with the Department of Agriculture and will come under general requirements in current EU Guidelines,” said Raw Milk Ireland.

Cold-Pressed But Not Pasteurised

This week, unpasteurised raw milk in Australia got approval from food safety authorities there.

Cold-pressed raw milk is an effective method to kill the harmful bacteria lurking inside milk, food safety authority announced.Cold pressure is typically used for meat and juices to remove bacteria.

However, it is reported that Sydney company Made by Cow has obtained the approval of the NSW (New South Wales) Food Authority to use cold pressure as an alternative to conventional heat pasteurisation.

Made by Cow founder Saxon Joye is reported as saying the product, which is sourced from a single jersey dairy herd in New South Waleswas still raw and retained the nutrients usually affected by heat.

Good herd management, hygienic milking techniques and the cold pressure method have meant we can put 100% safe, raw milk onto supermarket shelves,” Mr Joye is reported as saying.

“The bottles of milk are placed under enormous water pressure to remove the harmful micro-organisms.”

The NSW Food Authority has reportedly worked with Made by Cow for over a year to ensure the product was safe and suitable for human consumption.

“Any claims that may be perceived as promoting raw milk consumption would be investigated as the NSW government has taken a very firm stance against the sale of unpasteurised milk for human consumption,” an NSW Food Authority’s spokeswoman said.

However, Professor Peter Collignon, an Infectious Diseases Physician and Microbiologist at Canberra Hospital, is reported as saying he was concerned about the lack of research showing the efficacy of cold pressure.

I do worry this is a marketing exercise for raw milk but without the science to show the process is anywhere near as good as pasteurisation.”

“The [data and research] needs to be robust and available for all to see, including the public, and needs independent verification,” said Collignon.

The NSW authority confirmed it had discussed the product with its counterparts in other states and its approval meant the product could be sold across all Australian states.

Raw Milk Death Of Infant

Nutritionist and dietitian Lyndi Cohen is reported to have analysed the cold-pressed raw milk’s nutritional profile and said the product had higher protein, calcium, energy and fat content than regular cow’s milk.

“It’s cold-pressed and it’s raw, because it hasn’t been cooked, it hasn’t been heated,” Cohen is reported as saying.

“The heating process kills the enzymes and changes the structure of key nutrients that are heat sensitive.”

Raw milk advocates in Australia have attempted to bypass the unpasteurised milk law by buying and selling it as “bath milk” for cosmetic purposes.

In 2014, a toddler in Melbourne died, and four children became seriously ill, after drinking raw cow’s milk being sold in health food shops as ‘bath milk’.

A three-year-old child died and another four young children fell seriously ill after drinking the unpasteurised cow’s milk.

It was reported that the milk the children consumed was labelled “not for human consumption”.

Similar to a decision made in 2015 by UK Food safety authorities, last year in Ireland, a Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) report confirmed that raw milk contained harmful bacteria.

The consumption of raw, unpasteurised milk therefore increased the risk of developing food-borne illnesses, the report said.

The FSAI has continued to recommend that the sale of raw milk for direct human consumption should be prohibited in Ireland.

It advises that the most effective way to protect public health is to ensure that all milk is effectively heat-treated (e.g. pasteurised or boiled).

This is especially the case for children, pregnant women, older people, those with a weakened immune system or those suffering from a chronic disease, the report said.

According to a Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations document, “Raw milk and raw milk products can lead to food-borne illness in humans.

“Given that these products are not pasteurized/treated, alternative safety controls are required to ensure that they do not pose a public health risk”.