not braced for potential raw milk benefits
of Article: http://www.dairyreporter.com/Safety-Hygiene/Processors-not-braced-for-potential-raw-milk-benefits
By Neil Merrett, 05-Jun-2009
As dairy farmers around the globe
continue to raise concerns over the declining value of their products,
unpasteurised milk is being touted as one solution to generate added value
and profitability, albeit amongst staunch opposition from some
In the second part of a report into the raw milk
market, DairyReporter.com looks at the potential for the US industry in
entering unpasteurised production and the challenges facing manufacturers
wishing to do so.
While raw milk products like cheeses such as certain camembert are
protected under certain European designations, the US has banned the sale
of unpasteurised milk and finished products in certain states.
However, amongst growing concerns over food hygiene and safety, even
traditional markets like France and North American regions like Quebec have
faced criticisms from health groups and even cheese
makers over the practice of using raw milk.
Amidst this general uncertainty, Nelson Albano, an assemblyman for
the state of New Jersey, has opened debate to ascertain the pros and cons
of allowing raw milk sales in the state and the potential benefits there
may be for farmers and the dairy industry.
The US-based International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), which
represents processors and manufacturer in the country, says that both the
US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control
do not recommend consumption of unpasteurised dairy.
“In fact, many states still ban the sale of raw milk, and federal
law prohibits the retail sale of unpasteurised milk across state borders,” the association states.
Allen Sayler, vice president of regulatory affairs &
international standards at the IDFA, claims that even after considering the
start up costs for producing raw milk goods, any potential benefits in
using unpasteurised products appear negligible when considering modern
“Some old cheese-makers believe the use of raw milk for making
cheese improves the cheese's flavour, but modern cheese-making can produce
these same great flavours, while virtually eliminating the possibility of
becoming ill from eating the cheese,”
Despite some processor concerns, Albano last month opened discussion
on the possibility of dropping a ban on the sale of raw milk products in
New Jersey at an Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee
The assemblyman told DairyReporter.com that, while the proposals
were still very much at a discussion stage, consumers and farmers generally
seem to be behind allowing lifting the ban. He says that some shoppers are
already travelling to toher states to acquire raw milk
“In Pennsylvania and New York, they’re getting anywhere from $8 to
$12 a gallon,” says Albano. “So if a local dairy
farmer here in New Jersey was selling raw milk, he’d be able to get at
least that much, so they definitely would be making more money, and that
would be a great benefit.”
From a US perspective, in order to reap any potential benefits of
using raw milk in dairy production, consultancy group CheezSorce says that
the industry must step up its focus on supply quality.
Neville McNaughton, president of CheezSorce claims that raw milk
potentially offers new methods of differentiating ingredients and products
from competitors relying on pasteurised production.
“It is more than just tradition, there is more readily available
flavour potential in raw milk,”
claims McNaughton. “It takes more effort to produce a great cheese from
Pasteurised milk, having said that there is probably more likelihood of a
lost vat in a raw milk operation.”
The consultancy claims that any potential industry benefits linked
to raw milk are being lost though as a result of under strength production
standards in the country.
McNaughton suggests that current government guidelines for
unpasteurised milk and dairy production were representative of a minimum
set of standards that he says create the impression of a job well done
amongst some farmers.
While he conceded that some associations like American Cheese
Society are playing a role in trying to aid processors through measures
like seminars on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP),
more focus was needed on hygiene and safety at farm level.
“Much of the change needed on the farm, in the transportation system
and in the handling of raw milk prior to the cheese vat is not just about
Public Health and Safety,” states
McNaughton. “There is a commercial aspect that can benefit the whole
CheezSorce says that several areas where commercial loss may occur
for both pasteurised and raw milk products could be eliminated by adopting
a number of better practices during manufacture.
Larger process problems
Even considering these amendments though, McNaughton claims that
production of raw milk-derived goods like cheese was better left to smaller
scale producers and limited source operations.
“Large commercial raw milk operations would required farmers to
produce milk of a higher standard than is now common,” he says. “It is perhaps important to mention that milk of
apparently high quality can have sufficient contamination to cause
significant commercial loss. Many of the bacteria implicated in quality
problems would not be picked up on standard aerobic plates.”
CheezSorce says further challenges await larger processors looking
to produce both pasteurised and raw milk-derived goods, particularly in
separating the different production processes. In such an example,
McNaughton says a manufacturer looking to introduce raw milk into a site
primarily for pasteurised varieties has to consider a number of protocols
to maintain hygiene.
“The act of taking raw milk into a processing room set up for
pasteurised milk is in effect contaminating the post pasteurisation area of
his plant,” he says. “Special protocols should
be put in place to address staff movements and the potential for cross
contamination of products such as aged cheeses in rinded formats.”