Skip to main content

Raw milk update

Following on from my post from the other day about raw milk, a friend who works in the food regulation area sent me some great links from NZ.


Firstly, NZ takes a risk management approach and allows farmers to sell up to 5L of milk directly to customers for their personal consumption.  This is a very sensible approach that allows farmers and consumers to get what they want, raw milk direct to customers, without unnecessary regulation.

There was also a link to a study of the pathogens (disease causing microbes) that can be found in raw milk and how to minimise the risk of food poisoning.  From reading this report, my understanding is that the risk can be controlled by the following actions:
  • Keep your cow healthy and free of mastitis - mastitis is most often caused by non-pathogenic bacteria, however there is a possibility of infection by human pathogens, which will cause tummy-bug/food poisoning symptoms.  I'll write more later about natural methods to keep your cow healthy. 
  • Keep your milking area clean - many of the human pathogens that find their way into milk are found in feaces and/or soil, if the milking area is clean, there is lower risk of contaminating the milk during milking.
  • Wash the cow's teats prior to milking - feaces or soil on the teats (due to lying down in dirty yards) can contaminate the milk.  We wash Bella's teats with a face cloths in bucket of warm water.  
  • Discard the first few squirts of milk - the "foremilk" (the first few squirts) has the highest pathogen load as its closest to the outside environment, therefore the overall pathogen load of the milk can be reduced by squirting this milk onto the ground after washing the cow's teats.
  • Handle milk with care (all milk, not just raw milk) - raw milk should be refrigerated immediately after milking and all milking containers and equipment should be kept clean.  Milk is nutrient rich and the perfect medium for bacteria to grow.  Even pasteurised milk can become contaminated after pasteurisation (particularly after the bottle is opened) and cause food poisoning if its not kept cold.
In my previous post I said that milk from healthy cows milked in sanitary conditions is safe.  If you are going to buy raw milk, you will need to make sure that you're statisfied that the farmer is following the above guidelines, that the cows are healthy and that the milking conditions are clean, otherwise you do put yourself at risk of food poisoning.

Any thoughts on raw milk and the milking process?

You might also be interested in my series on getting started with homestead dairy

Comments

  1. I think if you're going to get raw milk from a farmer, it's important to know how the milking is being done.

    I heard an interview from someone in the dairy industry who said that cleanliness etc sometimes takes a backseat to speed when milking large herds. The farmer knows that the milk will be pasteurised anyway, so there's not much to be gained from going slower and cleaning every cow thoroughly. You don't want to be drinking raw milk from that farmer, though.

    Still, if you know the farmer and he knows you're drinking the milk raw, he's not going to knowingly put you at risk. It's ridiculous, like you said, that I can buy cigarettes and alcohol and poison myself (while paying very high duties to the government in the process!), but I can't choose to drink healthy raw milk.

    Talk about a "nanny state"!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, but I don't always get time to reply right away. If you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com

Popular posts from this blog

What to do with eight acres

Behind the scenes of my blog I can see the search terms that led people to find my blog.  It can be quite interesting to look through them occasionally and see what people are looking for.  Most of them involve chicken tractors, but another question that comes up regularly is “what can you do with eight acres?” or “how much land is eight acres?”.  Today I will try to answer this question.

Of course it is a very broad question, there are lots and lots of things you can do with eight acres, but I’m going to assume that you want to live there, feed your family and maybe make a little extra money.  I make that assumption because that’s what I know about, if you want to do something else with your eight acres, you will need to look somewhere else.

If you haven’t chosen your land yet, here a few things to look for.  Focus on the things you can’t change and try to choose the best property you can find in your price range.  Look for clean water in dams, bores or wells, either on the property …

Growing and eating chokos (chayotes)

Cooking chokos (not be confused with another post about cooking chooks) has been the subject of a few questions on my blog lately, so here's some more information for you.
Chokos - also known as Chayote, christophene or christophine, cho-cho, mirliton or merleton, chuchu, Cidra, Guatila, Centinarja, Pipinola, pear squash, vegetable pear, chouchoute, güisquil, Labu Siam, Ishkus or Chowchow, Pataste, Tayota, Sayote - is a vine belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family, along with pumpkins, squash and melons, with the botanical name Sechium edule.


The choko contains a large seed, like a mango, but if you pick them small enough it is soft enough to eat.  If you leave the choko for long enough it will sprout from one end and start to grow a vine.  To grow the choko, just plant the sprouted choko and give the vine a structure to climb over.  In summer, the vine will produce tiny flowers that will eventually swell into choko fruit.  The vine doesn't like hot dry weather.  And it doesn&#…

Making tallow soap

For some reason I've always thought that making soap seemed too hard.  For a start the number of ingredients required was confusing and all the safety warnings about using the alkali put me off.  The worst part for me was that most of the ingredients had to be purchased, and some even imported (palm oil and coconut oil), which never seemed very self-sufficient.  I can definitely see the benefits of using homemade soap instead of mass produced soap (that often contains synthetic fragrance, colour, preservatives, and has had the glycerine removed), but it seemed to me that if I was going to buy all the ingredients I may as well just buy the soap and save myself all the hassle.  For the past several years I have bought homemade soap from various market stalls and websites, and that has suited me just fine.
Then we had the steer butchered at home and I saw just how much excess fat we had to dispose, it was nearly a wheel-barrow full, and that made me think about how we could use that…