Minister Coveney does not propose to ban the sale of cheese or other products manufactured from raw milk, because the same risk to public health does not arise. He said public health is the overriding consideration, and allowing the sale of raw milk on a restricted basis would be more complicated, and would impose significant costs on the Department of Agriculture.
“Failure to adequately oversee such high-risk business operations could result in serious national and international reputational risk, for instance in the event of an outbreak of TB being linked to the consumption of raw milk purchased from an establishment approved by the competent authority. It should be noted that the prevalence of TB in herds in Ireland puts us in a different position to most other member states in the EU, where the disease has been eradicated,” he says.
Campaigns opposing government plans to ban the sale of raw milk have been started by Slow Food Ireland and by Sheridan’s Cheesemongers.
nIn Britain, moves to ban retail sale of milk in its raw state have come from within the dairy industry.
Dairy UK, which describes itself as “the voice of the UK dairy industry,” has asked the Food Standards Agency to support a ban.
Dairy UK is concerned that a health scare resulting from unpasteurised milk could damage the reputation and viability of the dairy industry.
The sale of raw milk was banned in Scotland in 1983.
Sources in the FSA said current regulations strike a balance between protecting consumer safety and allowing consumer choice.
Dairy UK represents dairy farmers and their co-ops, including companies which collect and process about 85% of British milk production.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, unpasteurised cows’ milk for drinking can only be sourced from TB-free herds. It can also only be sold direct from farms, or direct from the farmer via routes such as farmers’ markets and milk rounds, or as part of a farm-catering operation. It must be labelled to let consumers know that the milk has not been pasteurised and may contain organisms harmful to health.