4 Dec 2019

MPI cracks down on unregistered raw milk suppliers

2:04 pm on 4 December 2019

The Ministry for Primary Industries is cracking down on unregistered suppliers of raw drinking milk it says are putting consumer health at risk.

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MPI raided eight non-compliant raw milk suppliers in six regions around the country yesterday. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Following a year-long operation, the ministry (MPI) raided eight non-compliant suppliers in six regions around the country yesterday.

MPI Food Compliance manager Melinda Sando said the purpose of the site visits was to gather evidence of offending and to allow further investigation of non-compliant sales.

Unpasteurised milk which hasn't been heat treated carried more risk of food poisoning, and has been linked to more serious complications.

Ms Sando said MPI isn't suggesting people can't drink raw unpasteurised milk, but suppliers have to be registered with the ministry to ensure they are managing risks.

"There have been multiple instances in the past of people getting sick after drinking raw milk from some of these suppliers. We can't let this continue."

Ms Sando said businesses had been using various tactics in an attempt to continue selling their product, including selling the raw product as bath or pet milk.

"These tactics are not legal in our view and are a way of getting around the regulations and avoiding the costs associated with being compliant including food safety testing costs, registration costs and audit costs.

"We make no apologies for holding to account people who are breaching the regulations. The rules exist for a reason - to protect human health," Ms Sando said.

Currently, there are 24 raw milk suppliers registered with MPI.