It has been striking to note the rise in recent months of the number of dairy farmers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who are turning to the direct sale of raw drinking milk. Mostly, it seems, by means of on-farm raw milk vending machines. In March this year there was a total of 114 producers of raw drinking milk registered with the Food Standards Agency (FSA), a figure which has now risen to 158, an increase of almost 39% in a little over six months. The decline in milk prices and increased production are seen as drivers for the growth of raw milk vending machines across Europe. Many see these machines as helping farmers steer through the dairy crisis by providing an alternative route to market at a more favourable price. Are we entering the Golden Age of raw drinking milk?
Late last summer Artisan Food Law wrote about a forthcoming short study, undertaken on behalf of and working with Slow Food International, on the impact of 'flexibility' within the Hygiene Package which has now been completed. Few question the need for stringent rules regulating industrial food production, but when we talk about artisan cheese producers we are referring to a group of producers who exercise direct control over the whole of the production process and a very different situation. There is some concession made for small scale producers in the Hygiene Package in the form of 'flexibility'. It all sounds like a great idea. In practice it involves a regulatory system of derogations or exemptions, adaptations and exclusions beyond the comprehension of all but the most committed legal mind. Are these arrangements and the policy they reflect fit for purpose?
Do EU hygiene rules unduly constrain artisan food producers in the quality and range of food they are able to make? Artisan Food Law is working with Slow Food International on a study across Europe into this critical issue. The first stage will focus on artisan cheese and dairy production and we will be using the opportunity presented by Slow Cheese in Bra, Italy next month to further our research.
The refrain that EU food hygiene rules are excessive and place a disproportionate burden on small scale food producers is often heard, usually expressed in a despairing tone of voice. What may be reasonable in regulating industrial and factory processed food is out of all proportion to what is necessary in small scale food production. Do you have a story to tell? We would like to hear from you ... read on.
This post is an updated version of ‘ The FSA and so-called ‘risky’ foods’ which was published on 2 November 2014. Since then the Board of the FSA has met twice to consider the ‘risky’ foods framework and, more recently, burgers served rare.
A seemingly innocuous discussion paper was presented to the Board of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) early last November. ‘Our Approach to “Risky” Foods’ set out a significant new approach to the management of so-called ‘risky’ foods.
The Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) public consultation on the future availability of raw drinking milk comes to a close in a few days on 30 April. Artisan Food Law has covered many different issues surrounding raw milk over the last 12 months and more, so now seems a good time to bring some key ones together and provide, in no particular order, 10 good reasons for securing the future of raw milk.
A few days of the FSA’s public consultation remain. If you are one of the 77% of people who support the continued sale and availability of raw drinking milk, even if you would personally not choose to drink it, you have a brief opportunity left to let the FSA know. Simply send a note to Freddie Lachhman at the FSA, either by e-mail to RDM@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk or write to him at: Food Hygiene Policy, Food Standards Agency, 1st Floor, Aviation House, 125 Kingsway, London WC2B 6BH.
Make sure the message gets through by 30 April that raw drinking milk is here to stay and the choice whether to consume it must be one which is real and meaningful.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) publishes four food law codes of practice which are for use by the food authorities in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. These are statutory codes of practice which, in England, is issued under section 40 of the Food Safety Act 1990 and the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013.
Food authorities are required have regard to the relevant code in the discharge of their duties or risk successful challenge to their decisions or actions, and evidence being ruled inadmissible by a court. It is, therefore, essential that food businesses are at least aware of their content in their dealings with local enforcement authorities. The codes for England and Wales have recently been updated and came into force on 6 April 2014, replacing earlier versions dated April 2012.
On 31 March the Food Standards Agency (FSA) hosted an open meeting for anyone interested in the future of raw drinking milk. The FSA has been reviewing the regulations on raw milk for the last two years and this meeting was a part of the public consultation which runs until 30 April.
There have been no reported outbreaks of illness associated with raw drinking milk in the UK since 2002 while throughout this period well in excess of 10 million litres of raw drinking milk has been consumed. The absence of any reported outbreak is no accident or coincidence but a credit to the high standards of production applied by today’s raw milk producers. This formed the background to the discussion.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has announced the public consultation stage following a policy review of sales of raw drinking milk. The consultation pack which accompanied the announcement last Thursday, 30 January, extends to 191 pages of detailed information and sets out four options for the future. The good news is that the FSA has expressed a preference for continuing raw milk sales under the fourth of the following four options:
Option 1: Do nothing
Option 2: All milk to be pasteurised prior to sale
Option 3: Allow sales of raw drinking milk from all outlets
Option 4: Introduce measures to harmonise and clarify current controls.
In short, in a choice between the status quo, either extreme and somewhere in the middle, a whisker away from the status quo it is the last of these which is preferred by the FSA at this stage.