Defending Raw Milk in New Zealand

A recent article in the New Zealand Herald warned pregnant women not to consume raw milk or products made with raw milk. Here’s a great response letter by Ray Ridings, WAPF member and chairman of the Raw Milk Producers Association of New Zealand. Many thanks for defending raw milk, Ray!

Dear Editor:

I would like to add some balance to the article, “Diet Alert for Mums-to-Be,” New Zealand Herald Monday July 7. I realise this is a sensitive subject and don’t wish to diminish the cautionary messages at all, I simply wish to add further information. The article talks about avoiding food made with unpasteurized milk, then goes on to include raw milk itself as a food to avoid.

I wish to point out a recent study, Risk Profile: Listeria monocytogenes in Raw Milk, MPI Technical Paper No: 2014/16, May 2014. The key findings: the existing information suggests that the risk of listeriosis is low for individual New Zealanders who consume raw milk.

The study also finds there has been no listeria illness confirmed with drinking raw milk, worldwide since 1986.

There is a small risk from raw milk products such as cheeses, which the article mentions, along with other foods. But the article fails to point out the listeria illnesses and several deaths caused by pasteurized milk and milk products around the world. Pasteurization is touted to solve all problems and render the products completely safe. But looking at the statistics of other countries tells us otherwise. In the USA alone there are 64 illnesses and 11 deaths from listeria in pasteurized cheese reported since 1998. What are the statistics for NZ?

My point is there are risks with many foods, but official studies don’t support the constant extra negative attention raw milk receives. In fact European studies suggest raw milk reduces asthma incidence, which would save many people and governments a lot of trauma as well as dollars.

I would however point out that not all milk is the same. Raw milk for drinking needs to come from cows whose udders are properly prepared for milking to reduce the risk of contamination, followed by safe handling practices and good refrigeration. Just the same as with other foods really.

Ray Ridings
Chairman, Raw Milk Producers Association of NZ

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