The Government’s raw milk policy announced yesterday will make it more difficult for many consumers to access the quality product of their choice, and may even be setting up the raw milk sector to fail.
The Government, in its paranoia about our international food safety reputation, is prepared to sacrifice access to quality raw milk for many consumers, particularly in major urban areas. It is likely to create a black market, risking raw milk safety, because it will stop central collection points that could actually keep milk in optimum condition. Consumers can instead have their raw milk delivered, but may not be home, meaning milk may be open to contamination and spoilage, setting the scene for food safety incidents and ultimately pressure against a raw milk supply.
Food safety is critical for raw milk production and farmers specialising in raw milk will be meeting stringent food safety requirements, so consumer access to safe raw milk should be the Government’s aim, not a suppression of supply.
It would be good if the Government could be as vigilant about pesticide residues in the food chain and ensure that even baby food, including from mainstream milk products, was consistently free from all harmful pesticides. The Government recently effectively ignored a call for a policy of zero tolerance to pesticide residues in baby food, yet is overly concerned by the marginal risks presented by raw milk.
The requirement for raw milk farmers to record the full name, address, and phone number of every consumer for every sale is a draconian example of traceability –imagine all dips and dairy products needing retailers to note the name of every customer. If a contamination event occurs with food products, standardly there is a recall system, and this is all that is required for raw milk. It appears the Government is bowing to the big food businesses and doing its best to reduce consumer access to a premium natural product.