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article imageAustralia could be facing raw milk ban

By Karen Graham     Feb 4, 2015 in Food
Ministers responsible for food safety in Australia and New Zealand met this past week, and expressed "extreme concern" over raw milk being sold as "bath milk" with the disclaimer that the product was "not for human consumption."
The selling of raw milk for "bath milk" alongside pasteurized milk in grocery and health food stores may come to a screeching halt in Australia and New Zealand if Michael Baird, the premier of New South Wales and leader of the New South Wales Liberal Party, gets his way.
Baird cited the death of a three-year-old in Victoria in December, 2014, as well as the hospitalization of four other children after they consumed raw, unpasteurized milk. Baird has pledged to work with other state and territory leaders to stop the sale of raw milk in health food stores.
Now, with the meeting of the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation this past week, the ministers have called for a "consistent" approach across all states and territories, to include action at the national level, to create “a joint public health, food safety and consumer law solution.”
After the December outbreak, Victoria Consumer Affairs Minister Jane Garrett "infuriated food activists" when she ordered a gag-inducing substance poured into raw milk being sold as "bath milk." But, Dr. Rosemary Lester, Victoria’s chief health officer, defended the move, saying the only purpose for adding the bittering agent was “to stop people from putting themselves and their children at risk.”
Doug Powell is a former Kansas State University professor and has a blog "down under" called barfblog. In his blog on Feb. 2, he says that although sale of raw milk is already banned for human consumption in all states and territories, raw milk is still sold as "bath milk" or "cosmetic milk" with a disclaimer. But even with a disclaimer, it is still "being consumed by people who argue the bacteria in raw milk are beneficial to health."
Microbiologist Professor Michael Eyles, chair of the Food Safety Information Council, says raw milk is a dangerous product because it contains a dangerous bacteria that has the opportunity to multiply during packaging, transit and storage. In the December incident, three of the four children who became ill from drinking raw milk developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, caused by a particularly toxic strain of E. coli. The fourth child came down with a case of cryptosporidiosis, a parasitic infection.
The sale of raw milk for human consumption is banned in Australia and new Zealand, and a farmer breaking the law can be fined up to $60,000, and have all licenses suspended. But Garrett admits there is a "black market" of raw milk sales going on. And food activists want the government to look at other options. In the UK, a "green cap" system is used to identify raw milk, and New Zealand now allows the sale of raw milk at the farm gate.
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