Raw Milk Producers Association of New Zealand submission on discussion document
The sale of raw milk to consumers – MPI Public Discussion Paper No: 2014/22
Thank you for listening to the submissions presented to the last round of consultations in 2011.
In our first year as an organization our membership exceeded 50, and as such considers our group to be the first point of contact for MPI in consultation and development of any or all options.
The discussion documents recognize the RMPANZ as an interested party of some substance, with a good number of members operating as Raw Milk producers for many years. As such we have many skills, experiences and alternative research, and would like to assist in the process of making new legislation. The RMPANZ represents interests in a large portion of all raw Milk sales and we welcome all opportunities to work for improved public health while not limiting freedom of choice.
We agree that the present laws for raw drinking milk are outdated and therefore need updating. Raw Milk is a food and as such no longer needs exemption from the current laws in this country. But it does not deserve to be singled out either, and we suggest it should get the same treatment as all other fresh perishable food.
We also ask that a clear distinction be recognized between Fresh Raw Milk drinking milk, and Raw Milk produced for further processing. And this distinction needs to flow right through from the regulatory process, all the way to the reporting processes, so that in the future any raw milk illness reported recognizes the difference.
Firstly, defining raw milk is key to defining the problem.
With reference to this the association would further expect the Ministry to then consider the other raw milk that exists (de-contaminated raw milk as described in the discussion paper No 2014/22 section 8.1.1 third paragraph and with reference to the milk tests attached) as a separate but parallel area for discussion.
The Association agrees with the problem described but only under a more accurate definition, thus allowing discussion on firstly food borne illness that results from drinking contaminated raw milk (Factory Milk) and secondly discussing minimal food borne illness risk from drinking de-contaminated raw milk(Drinking Milk).
People in NZ do not yet understand that fit for intended purpose factory supply raw milk is highly contaminated with bacteria and pathogens and will choose this milk as it is often cheaper and more readily available.
The Association does not contend that the de-contaminated rawmilk produced by most of the members is totally free from contaminants but does contend that the level of contamination is hugely reduced. (see milk test results attached)
If the number of illnesses presented were infact from raw milk farms, then we would expect our members to know something about these cases. We therefore contend that the statistical risk analysis in Appendix 1 is based on false data and is not the same milk we wish our members to sell to their customers.
We would also like to add some balance to the “Problem”.
Throughout the discussion document and its supporting documents, assertions are made that pasteurisation of milk turns it into a perfectly safe product to drink. In the following paragraphs we wish to point out that just like with all foods, pasteurised milk can cause illness and even deaths occasionally.
In presenting this data, we note that we cannot find data for pasteurized dairy illness in NZ. Is this data not recorded?
CDC data is often referred to as a source of information for Raw Milk illness, but what is always overlooked is their data on Pasteurised Dairy illnesses.
31 total outbreaks
It should be noted that there have been no deaths associated with Raw Drinking milk since CDC records began in 1972.
Now looking at a recent study shows us certain Pasteurisation techniques can have negative impacts by increasing listeria growth post pasteurisation even under refrigeration. It predicts an increase from the existing average of 18 deaths per year, up to 670 deaths per year from Listeria in processed milk.
Responding to Bioterror Concerns by Increasing MilkPasteurization Temperature Would Increase Estimated AnnualDeaths from Listeriosis
The results of this study indicate that increasing thepasteurization temperature of fluid milk could increase thesubsequent outgrowth L. monocytogenes in milk contaminatedwith this pathogen postpasteurization. These changesto the potential for outgrowth have been calculated toincrease the risk of death from listeriosis due to consumptionof pasteurized fluid milk by approximately 40-fold.
Such an increase would have an appreciable public healthimpact if all milk in the United States were processedaccording to the increased pasteurization temperature basedon the fact that fluid milk is estimated to be responsible forapproximately 18 listeriosis deaths per year in the UnitedStates. In reality, the observed increase in mortality wouldprobably be less, because standard pasteurization likelyoccurs at temperatures above 72uC (about 75 to 76uC) andbecause the increased pasteurization temperature may beimplemented in only part of the milk supply.
This is of concern when you read the following research from Australia showing variations in pasteurisation temperatures.
Beyond that, however, temperatures rangedfrom 72-86o C and times from 15-50 seconds, with many different combinations within thoseranges. As with batch pasteurisation, type of product was again a major influence on theheating regime used, with the time and temperatures reported generally being within theexpected range for the type of product.
And finally in New Zealand there are 6 recalls of Pasteurised Dairy products listed on the Government Food Smart website thus far in 2014, showing that problems can and do occur, exposing the public to some risk until all the foods in question are retrieved.
Our point here is, that while pasteurisation is a useful tool, it is not as fool proof as is often stated. We firmly believe that Raw Milk produced following sound guidelines can and is being produced at least as safely as pasteurised milk currently is.
The Association contends that the re-defined raw milk will require two separate approaches to these objectives one for contaminated raw milk (Factory milk) and one for de- contaminated raw milk (Drinking milk).
Whereas de-contaminated raw milk(Drinking milk) hygienically produced and backed up with sufficient testing should, with a consistent high milk quality standard, be suitable for urban consumers.
For clarity of the background, the Association would like to Refer MPI back to top of this submission in clause 3. In clause 6 they are for the most part referring to about Raw Factory Milk, not Raw Drinking Milk
The Association does not currently keep any information about sales by it’s members. As mentioned in the document we are aware of many more producers who are not current members of the Association, so it is very hard to calculate consumption, but we feel 5 % is a reasonable estimate. While it is a small concern, the Association members take the attitude that we need to start somewhere if we are to educate everyone about the production of safe Raw Drinking Milk.
Outbreaks of illness in New Zealand
As the Report states, the association of raw milk in these “reported” incidents is very low. If you then take the Raw Factory Milk out of the equation, the “reported” incidents are extremely low. As stated elswhere in this submission, if any of the very small number of incidents came from a Raw Drinking Milk farm, then our members believe we would know about them, but we don’t.
Assessment of evidence
As we stated in clause 3, the risk assessment is overstated because the calculations are based on data from milk intended for processing, not consumption. We also wish to point out that there is no practice that “guarantees” any food to be free of pathogens, therefore the claim made in 8.1.1 paragraph 3 is invalid. We present further below evidence that milk intended for fresh consumption can be produced in as safe a manor as any other fresh food.
Effects of pasteurization on raw milk
Conclusions that small quantities of missing components and small percentage changes in milk by pasteurisation have very little effect on it, are not consistent with knowledge that small quantities of microbes, good or bad, can have a major effect on milk. The conclusions also fail to acknowledge the combined or cumulative effect of all these components damaged by pasteurisation. Science now recognizes the “cocktail” effect of chemicals, why should the components of Raw Milk be any different.
Holder pasteurisation has traditionally been used in human milk banks to inactivate the pathogenic microorganisms and part of the commensal flora that are potentially present in milk from donors. However, this process results in variable loss of nutrients. In the search for an alternative to pasteurisation, we assessed the ability of high-pressure processing (HPP) to maintain the fatty acid, vitamin C and vitamin E contents of human milk and compared this process with Holder pasteurisation. Fatty acid proportions in milk, as well as levels of delta-, gamma-, and alpha-tocopherols did not vary with any of the treatments. Total vitamin C and ascorbic acid levels were maintained after HPP. However, after pasteurisation, total vitamin C and ascorbic acid were about 20% and 16% lower, respectively, than in untreated samples. These results suggest that HPP merits further investigation as a potential alternative to Holder pasteurisation for treating donor human milk.
RETENTION OF THE IMMUNOLOGICAL PROTEINS OF PASTEURIZED HUMAN MILK IN RELATION TO PASTEURIZER DESIGN AND PRACTICE
Charles Czank1, Danielle K Prime1, Ben Hartmann2, Karen Simmer3and Peter E Hartmann1
Results; We found, on average, 17% higher fat absorption with raw milk as compared to pasteurized milk. Infants gained more weight and linear growth as assessed as knee-heel length was greater during the week they were fed raw milk as compared to the week they were fed pasteurized milk.
We have presented just a few examples of different studies showing that there may be some truth to the claims by many people that pasteurised milk has a negative effect on their lives. These examples look at milk from different perspectives, showing that science has many varied opinions about effects of pasteurization on milk. Some of these examples may help explain why for some people Raw Milk benefits their lives while pasteurized milk destroys their lives.
Besides the pure scientific approach to the question of Raw Milk benefits, we encourage regulators to take more notice of the personal accounts recounting life changing effects. When the number of accounts relayed reach as high as they are, they should not be dismissed as fantasy. Numerous people’s lives have changed dramatically after consuming Raw Milk and that information needs to be taken into account throughout the decision making process.
The information presented in Appendix 1 is largely based on milk produced for further processing. The practices used to produce this milk are hugely different from those that either are already, or should be employed to produce Raw Drinking Milk. We agree that most of the milk sampled in this risk assessment is not suitable for consumption without further processing.
Here we will present some further information demonstrating that Raw Milk can be produced to a level of acceptable risk that is comparable to most other foods.
MANAGING FOR MILK QUALITY
Essential Aspects of the Milking Routine
Effective Predipping. Methods of premilking teat preparation have been extensively studied
Here we have 12 years of results from Organic Pastures Dairy Raw Milk Sales from their 300 cow herd using good herd management and hygienic milking procedures.
For more American examples, take a look at the results on the websites of other Listed Farmers here http://rawmilkinstitute.net/listed-farmers/
NZ Raw MILK results to come
And a portion of Expert witness testimony by Dr Ron Hull (Australia) to a California court. He is a world consultant on Dairy Microbiology.
A. Because we know where pathogens come from in the dairy industry. In the case of shedding cows, we know why they shed pathogens, and we have procedures to eliminate those pathogens from the gastrointestinal tract of those animals, and that’s been commercial practice now since – in the poultry industry at least since 1970.
We’re talking 38 years that’s been knowledge, and it’s now practiced in other agricultural industries. So we can be assured that our animals are not shedding pathogens. So we can be very specific in our control measures for controlling pathogens in the dairy herd and in the milking environment.
Potential options considered but not proceeded with:
We agree that prohibition will not work. Canada is a perfect example that it doesn’t work. Despite the risk of huge fines, thousands of desperate consumers convince farmers to supply them with milk.
This is not an option either
Non regulatory control measures
This is also not a good option
Sale at retail outlets
We don’t want to see a retail option. Direct from the farm to consumers is the best option.
Sales at farmers markets
Some farmers markets may work, but overall they are not a viable option at this stage. They may be an option in the future once systems are in place and have settled down. This option does work in parts of America, and it is still only for pre-ordered collection, NOT sales.
Options under consideration
The Association acknowledges the need to draw a line in the sand between regulated control of food products and small scale operations. And it doesn’t matter where that line is drawn, people immediately either side will be disadvantaged.
Therefore we are pointing out that we have members who will be affected by just missing out on option 1, and so ask for some understanding and tolerance as we assist these producers to adjust to any new requirements.
The Association wishes to point out that the development from Option 1 over to Option 2 , 3 or 4 may be a big capital step for some as customer demand grows, and therefore some understanding and communication may be needed in this area as well.
The Association disagrees with the assertion that “the current demand by some consumers to buy raw milk in places other than the farm would be met”. Our farmers that currently deliver are clear that they would not be able to support home delivery as it would not be economically viable. Therefore the demand by consumer to buy raw milk from places other than the farm would not be met. The regulations would fail to meet the objective of maintaining existing access to raw milk.
The Association disagrees with the assertion that “the additional requirements imposed on home deliveries would help manage risks to consumers…”. It would be very difficult if not impossible to monitor compliance with the refrigeration requirement. This may mean that milk may not remain at under 6 degrees Celsius and therefore increase the risk to the consumer.
The Association disagrees with the assertion that “despite the proposed hygiene and safety controls for home deliveries … safe food” for the following reasons.
The science that the Ministry is relying on are small sample sizes. The Ministry is also demonstrating correlations which may not be statistically significant, and correlations are not demonstrations of causation in terms of a higher risk of adverse health consequences if a larger amount of raw milk is available.
If the milk presented for sale is not the milk produced for further processing (Factory Milk), then increased sales should not a risk factor.
The Association agrees with the assertion that option 3 is not consistent with the way the Ministry regulates the sale of other raw foods that potentially contain pathogens.
Other comments on Option 3
If option 3 was implemented and used the Association is concerned that milk delivered may not be secure, allowing it either to be tampered with or stolen.
The Association supports the addition of Option 4 as detailed below.
Option 4: sales from farm as for option 2, plus delivery to a common pick up point
Option 4 extends option 2 by allowing dairy farmers selling 40 litres or more of raw milk per day to deliver raw milk directly to a common pick up point, provided the consumer has:
Additional requirements for delivery to a common pick up point would be imposed in the RCS to make sure that the milk is packaged, transported, delivered and refrigerated (post delivery) to a high standard
This option would reduce the likelihood of foodborne illness compared to the current situation because of the increased compliance requirements and therefore help protect New Zealand’s reputation as a supplier of safe food while extending current consumer access to raw milk.
This option would place stringent requirements on raw milk production in the same way that stringent requirements are placed on other raw foods that potentially contain pathogens, to reduce the risk of illness.
The current demand by some consumers to buy raw milk in places other than from the farm would be met.
Delivered milk would be kept refrigerated till point of pick up. This would ensure that the quality of milk would be kept safe for the consumer reducing the likelihood of outbreak of illnesses associated with raw milk.
The developing culture of raw milk excellence by all raw milk producers would decrease the likelihood of outbreak of illnesses associated with raw milk. (Please read the answer to Question 25 below)
Compliance monitoring would be simple and enforceable as it is likely that there would be no sales beyond those intended by the regulations and monitoring of refrigeration standards would be simple as the number of them would be few.
The requirement to provide information on the risk and safety of raw milk would ensure that the consumer has made a well informed decision. It would also prevent misinformation from being circulated and help ensure full information on health risks was being provided to consumers.
The requirement to pre order and pre pay would prevent; opportunistic purchases,
The additional requirements imposed on delivery to a common pick up point would help manage risks to consumers and, as for other options, dairy farmers who do not consistently meet the requirements would have to close that part of their business.
Consumers of raw milk would be able to purchase the quantity of milk they require, including amounts needed to make raw milk cheeses and would be assured that safety measures to reduce the risk of foodborne illness have been followed and checked. They would also be informed about health risks through additional labelling provisions.
There may potentially be a small positive environmental impact due to fewer consumers driving to farms
This option is not consistent with the way we regulate the sale of other raw foods that potentially contain pathogens.
As deliveries would be a new option for dairy farmers, those who opted to deliver to a common pick up point would face initial set up costs, such as the purchase of a refrigerated truck and assessments to ensure the relevant transportation, distribution, and deliveries were being followed.
Government would face some additional costs to those outlined under option 2, such as the costs associated with monitoring compliance to ensure that raw milk:
Because farmers would be responsible for educating the consumer about minimising the foodborne risk of raw milk there would be no cost to the government as under option 3.
Detail on proposed requirements under the options
Measures applying to all …
Keeping a list of Customers
Some vending machines have cards or keys (non eft-pos) that customers can use to purchase their milk but in general the capability of both the cards/keys and the card/key readers on the machines does not provide the ability to track sales in this manner. Further some vending machines are cash only or the majority of customers using the machine pay by cash. Some vending machines are open 24/7.
For self-fill operations it is also unworkable because they are also un-manned stations.
The Association believes this is a workable solution that will adequately manage the requirements for traceability, which far exceeds any other food type.
Consistency of treatment with other raw food
The Food Act 2014 allows for sale of horticultural produce direct to consumer from the producer with exemption from food control or the National programme. Overseas outbreaks of food borne illness has occurred from contaminated horticultural produce.
Most other raw foods fall under the national programme level 1 and they all have minimal processing.
These foods all have some regulations around their preparation for sale and for butchering and they can result in illness if there are any pathogens present. These can be purchased in shops and the buyer is not informed of the risks or the safety storage of the food at point of sale.
None of these foods are tracked to the final consumer, names and addresses are not captured. Labelling on the pack do not have warnings of the danger or risks. The consumer has no knowledge of any test results or the original supplier farm for these foods. These foods could be on sold and this is not monitored.
RMPANZ submit that Raw Drinking Milk should be treated in a similar manner to these other raw foods if it comes from approved suppliers.
Openness and Transparency
RMPANZ would like to work with Openness and transparency in their dealings with consumers and with MPI.
For the continued availability of raw milk to the consumers RMPANZ considers that a well informed and educated consumer has the right to choose what food they provide for their family when being kept up to date with evaluation of the product.
No, the Raw Milk Producers Association believes the standard of milk produced for human consumption should significantly better than factory supply milk.
The association is setting the APC targets at 0 to 500 APC as the top grade, 500 to 2000 APC as the next grade. It will set 1000 APC as the red flag level to begin finding out what is going wrong with milk quality and >15000 APC as the Level where the milk is unsuitable for human consumption without pasteurisation.
The Association agrees with Annual testing for herds less than C10, but for C10 herds it makes no sense to exceed the requirements of TB Free NZ. They are charged with ensuring food safety with regards to TB, therefore we need to trust their systems.
Guidance for dairy farmers…
The members of the Association object to the requirement to do an AgITO course. A great many raw milk producers could actually teach at those courses, therefore not only is it an unnecessary expense, it is insulting.
In order to keep costs down, guidance only may be the best option. There are now a number of very good Youtube video tutorials which the Association plans to provide links to interested members.
As stated throughout this submission, the association is willing and able to assist with the development of a COP. We believe we have the practical knowledge and experience amongst our members to be of great assistance.
Additional measures under…
The Association agrees with this question ( reasons are given Q 25 )
The Association would need to study the multitude of quality specifications attached to all other dairy products to answer properly but in general principles the quality standard should make the de–contaminated raw milk as safe as any other food.
The Association agrees with the periodic monitoring proposal.
The Association agrees with the proposed testing schedule, but notes that some regions may need to vary the 10 day schedule occasionally for hygiene tests due to courier runs being effected by weekends.
The Association will see the establishment of a Top Grade milk as set out in the answer to Question 25. With that in mind the Association would prefer to implement a results/performance based closure criteria for closure and re-entry, along with Verification. A compulsory 28 day stand down is not consistent with other food licensing systems and is a blunt tool. A re-testing results based criteria, worked through the verifier, will better reward and punish performance.
A compulsory two verifications per year is once again a blunt tool and does not reward great performance. By implementing frequent testing, the results will speak for themselves and should be rewarded or penalized accordingly with verification frequency.
The Association is concerned that MPI is trying to create a completely new system for this Raw Drinking Milk. Section 29 of DPC 3 sets out a great example of a Verification system that already exists, and will take very little work to adapt for Raw Drinking Milk. DPC 1, DPC 2, Animal Products (Dairy processing Specifications) 2006, and NZCP 1 also set out reporting requirements and verification criteria, therefore we see little point in re-inventing the wheel.
The Association would like to work with MPI to develop a RCS or RMP that covers Raw Drinking Milk right from the cow to the consumer, which is covered by one Verifier and is performance based similar to that set out in the above mentioned documents. This would allow costs to be kept to a minimum for those who reliably meet the set criteria.
As per Question 34, plus the Association has seen Village Milk apply their self-policing policies to ceasing milk supply if there has been a quality breech. It would be sensible to gain from their experience in developing this workable closure policy.
For home deliveries of raw milk under option 3
Bottling of milk for collection at the farm, or from collection points is barely mentioned in the document and needs further discussion, re reference in 22.214.171.124 The RMP Template for Dairy Processors Liquid milk details the requirements for the handling area and other requirements for bottling pasteurised milk. RMPANZ questions what requirements producers will be asked to meet?
RMPANZ would like to engage with MPI on the intentions for regulations for the bottling and delivery process for raw milk.
Labelling of raw milk
As stated at the start, we need Raw Drinking Milk defined as being different from Raw Factory Milk. Once that is accepted then the need for excessive warnings diminishes because the risk profile is greatly reduced.
The Association accepts the current need for a cautionary warning label. However it does not need to be excessive because of the solid testing programme also being implemented. How many other high risk tested foods have warning labels?
Question 44 and Question 45
To sum up, the RMPANZ Association thinks that once Raw Drinking milk is defined and separated from Raw Factory milk, then a COP and RMP which covers milk from the Cow to the Consumer, will be the most efficient and cost effective method to implement new legislation about Raw Drinking milk sales. This would allow independent Verifiers to be licensed and leave MPI staff free to concentrate on the more important items.
If a RCS is still considered the best legislative option, the Association still wishes to work with MPI to work through the details.