The recall of raw drinking milk from New Zealand producer Lindsay Farm after Campylobacter bacteria was found in some product is a timely reminder of the risk related to consumption of raw milk.

Unlike in Australia, raw unpasteurised milk can be legally sold in New Zealand, but only under specific and tightly regulated arrangements.

“This incident is a reminder of the importance of pasteurisation and why pasteurisation is a legal requirement for milk produced for human consumption in Australia,” said Geoff Raven, Dairysafe CEO.

In New Zealand, the Ministry of Primary Industry (MPI) states that between 2009 and 2015 there were 41 outbreaks of illness where consuming raw milk was a risk factor (MPI, 2016). Of these:

  • 90% involved children, ranging in age from 1 to 16 years;
  • In 2014, six people who had consumed raw milk were hospitalised with E. coli infections. Five of the six were children, two of whom developed serious, life-threatening complications; and
  • In 2015, five children and one elderly patient who had consumed raw milk were hospitalised with E. coli infections. One child and the elderly patient developed serious, life-threatening complications.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) advises the following hazards associated with raw milk:

  • A wide variety of organisms that can cause illness can be found in raw milk. These include bacteria such as Campylobacter, Listeria, Salmonella, pathogenic Escherichia coli (e.g. E. coli O157) and parasites such as Cryptosporidium;
  • The complications from infection with these organisms can be extremely severe, such as renal failure, paralysis or even death in otherwise healthy people;
  • People with increased vulnerability to diseases caused by these bacteria include young children, elderly people, people with compromised immune systems and pregnant women and their foetuses; and
  • For raw drinking milk, even extremely good hygiene procedures won’t ensure dangerous pathogens aren’t present.

Read the story about the New Zealand producer here: