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E.coli O157 & Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome


Selfridges accused of potentially putting customers at risk and breaking the law by selling 'raw' milk

23rd March 2012

Selfridges has been accused by the Government’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) of potentially putting customers at risk and breaking the law by selling ‘raw’ milk.

It is selling the milk, produced on an organic farm in Sussex, from a vending machine and claims that many traditionalists enjoy raw milk, believing it tastes nicer and may even be better for them.

However the FSA and its experts insist that raw milk, which is not heat-treated or pasteurised to kill off harmful bugs, is a public health threat. Its health and legal experts have put the store and the farmer involved on notice that they are at risk of prosecution.

Historically, raw milk consumption was associated with the spread of TB in humans, plus food poisoning such as E.coli O157, salmonella and campylobacter. As a result, raw milk has been banned outright in Scotland since 1983.

There are various exemptions in the rest of the country which allow sales direct by farmers to the public at the gate, at farmers’ markets and via the internet.

An expert paper submitted to the FSA board warned: ‘The potential risks associated with the consumption of raw drinking milk have long been recognised. Between 1912 and 1937, about 65,000 deaths from bovine tuberculosis were reported in England and Wales. In addition, raw milk was associated with many cases of brucellosis, food poisoning and other diseases.’

Member for Northern Ireland, Dr Henrietta Campbell, said the time has come for an outright ban across the entire country. She said: ‘We have to make absolutely clear in our message to the young, the old and the immune-compromised that they should not drink raw milk. Anyone else who does it is foolish. I would go further and look for a ban on the sale of raw milk.’

Colleague, Clive Grundy, said: ‘It only takes one incident for this to be a very serious issue. We would be discussing this in very different terms if that one were a fatality. That deeply concerns me.’

The FSA board has given approval for a research and consultation project on whether new controls, including a ban, should be introduced.

After the meeting, a FSA spokesman said that both Selfridges and the farmer have been informed that the sale of raw cows’ milk from retail premises is an offence under the food Hygiene regulations.




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