IDFA questions raw milk viability for US processors

Source of Article:  http://www.dairyreporter.com/Safety-Hygiene/IDFA-questions-raw-milk-viability-for-US-processors

 

By Neil Merrett, 27-May-2009

Amidst debate over allowing the sale of raw milk in a growing number of US states, some processors remain unconvinced that there are any potential benefits for either consumers or manufacturers in turning away from pasteurised dairy.

In the first of a two-part report appearing over the next week, DairyReporter.com looks at industry claims that raw milk consumption, both alone and in finished products is not feasible in markets like the US from either a cost or health standpoint.

New Jersey debate

The US-based International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) says that ongoing debate in New Jersey over whether to allow sales of raw milk products will unlikely lead to an exodus of manufacturers dropping pasteurised products.

Earlier this month, the state of New Jersey opened up discussions over possibly dropping a ban on the sale of raw milk products under certain conditions as part of a Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee hearing.

The discussions are a response to some state dairy farmers looking to add more value to their products.

However, on a wider global basis, debate is currently raging over whether claims of potential improvements in taste and nutrition linked to raw milk products are sidelining concerns over the possible health risks linked to salmonella.

From the US, where raw milk policy is set at state level to Canada and even traditionally supportive markets like France, the sale of raw milk and its use as an ingredient continues to be a major issue for dairy manufacturers.

Raw milk viability

The IFDA, which serves as a lobby group for dairy manufacturers across the US, claims that even if farmers obtain the right to sell raw milk in the state, the segment will remain unviable for processors to enter.

Speaking to DairyReporter.com, Allen Sayler, vice president of regulatory affairs & international standards at the IDFA, says that both issues of safety and cost will likely limit the market potential of raw milk products.

“It is very unlikely that dairy processing plants in New Jersey would be willing to share the financial liability with farmers that might try to sell raw milk for consumption, if such a bill is passed,” he says.

Sayler suggests that with both the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control recommending that unpasteurised dairy goods should not be consumed, manufacturers will be unwilling to open themselves up to the possibility of being linked to raw milk food scare.

“When that happens, our society likes to blame someone and dairy processing plants, knowing the risks of raw milk consumption, are not likely to agree to be a part of that,” he adds.

In certain European markets like France, long standing tradition dictates that raw milk products, which must comply to certain safety criteria, must be used to meet certain quality hallmarks. Nonetheless, even this practice has developed criticism from some corners in the region.

In the second part of this report to be published next week, DairyReporter.com will look at the growing divide between larger process groups and smaller ‘artisan’ producers round the world over the prospects for raw milk and unpasteurised cheeses.

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