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Decision expected from Food Standards Agency in May.

Following a number of consultations over the last 8 months, the Food Standards Agency is expected to make an announcement on raw milk regulations in May.

The last 15 years have seen acceptance of raw milk by the authorities in England and Wales.  Primary sales from the farm gate are permitted, "farm gate" meaning direct deliveries from farm to consumers' homes and farmers' markets which bring raw milk to the city consumer.  Until now, producers have kept closely to the letter and the spirit of the law which has resulted in the availability of raw milk in most counties, albeit with only one or two producers per county on average.  This stability has enabled raw milk sales to flourish.

During the last 15 years the demography of raw milk consumption has changed.  What was primarily an old, countryside tradition with the majority of consumers an increasingly ageing population has become a specialist, natural foodstuff increasingly sought after by natural food supporters.  This good news has been matched by new producers testing the legislation.  Internet sales and other experiments using the latest technological advances in refrigeration and packaging have caused concern in some quarters and action has been taken in certain cases.

CREAM has taken an active part in consultations with the FSA and has been pleased with the balanced opinions shown by all parties.  The general theme throughout discussions has been that the current legislation works and this has been proved by lack of reported illness from raw milk for many years in England and Wales. The main concern of the Agency appears to be how to deal with internet sales and sales from unsupervised refrigerated machines and whether or not they constitute a health risk.  The agency's final report is expected to concentrate on these issues, rather than amending or overturning the current primary sales legislation.

At CREAM we strongly support the status quo.  There have been no outbreaks of disease attributable to raw milk for well over 10 years, a fantastic success story and excellent evidence that the current legislation works.  The country is not yet ready for secondary sales and we must not jeopardise the future of raw milk consumption. 

A question some people ask me regularly is how the European Union affects sales of unpasteurised milk.  It doesn't.  Every European country has the power to make its own laws on unpasteurised milk sales and every member state has differing legislation.  The only common thread is that raw milk exports and imports are prohibited amongst member sales. 

I am certain that, by taking a responsible attitude to this issue, raw milk will continue to be available in England and Wales.  CREAM supports a Code of Conduct which will set out exactly what are and what are not primary sales.  The world has changed.  More and more people want to eat and drink unprocessed foodstuffs.  The antis have virtually disappeared (although Dairy UK keeps up a bit of pressure in support of its vested interests).  The medical benefits of unpasteurised milk are now recognised by an increasing number of conventional, medical practitioners and we must ensure that our right to drink healthy, licensed and tested raw milk is enshrined in perpetuity.

Please e-mail the Food Standards Agency to support CREAM's stance and the tens of thousands of established raw milk drinkers.  The more e-mails we receive the more credibility it will give to our campaign.

Richard Copus

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