FSA Board agrees restrictions on raw milk should remain

The FSA Board met to discuss the findings of the comprehensive review of the regulations that control the sale of unpasteurised, or raw, drinking milk.

The review concluded that:

  • the risk associated with raw drinking milk consumption, except for vulnerable groups, is acceptable when appropriate hygiene controls are applied
  • the current restriction on sales of raw milk should remain in place as there is uncertainty that consumer protection can be maintained if the market for raw milk is expanded
  • risk communication could be improved, particularly for vulnerable groups, and changes to the labelling requirements are proposed to reflect this

The Board accepted the conclusions of the review.  However, they noted concerns that consumers should be more aware of the risks and asked that the FSA be clear in its advice not to drink raw milk.

The Board noted reports of non-compliance in the industry and agreed that supporting improvements in compliance should be a focus for FSA action.

In a development to the FSA’s approach to the control of ‘risky’ foods, the Board agreed that we will now identify triggers relating to outbreaks, detection of pathogens in raw drinking milk samples, and changes in the retail market for raw drinking milk that would require a further discussion of risks and controls. This will be facilitated by regular reporting of compliance in this sector to the Board.

The FSA reviewed the current controls to make sure they are clear, consistent and control the public health risks associated with raw milk. The review covered England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Sale of raw drinking milk is banned in Scotland.

The consultation considered a number of options. These ranged from removing restrictions on sales through to introducing a requirement for all milk to be pasteurised prior to sale.

(Source: FSA Website)

EFSA helps investigate the source of hepatitis A outbreaks

EFSA is working closely with the European Commission’s Directorate General for Health and Consumers, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and Member States to help identify the origin of the recent outbreaks of Hepatitis A virus infection in humans.

The outbreaks occurred in Italy, Ireland, and the Netherlands. Just today the Italian Ministry of Health announced a new case on its website (only available in Italian).

The last update on the epidemiological situation in the European Union by our Ministry (30 September 2013) stated that:

– In 4 countries in Northern Europe (Denmark , Sweden, Norway and Finland) from October 2012 to April 2013 were reported 71 cases , of which 28 confirmed (strain HAV genotype IB sequence KC876797 ) . The source of infection was identified in epidemiological frozen berries, they are still under investigation to determine origin / brand.

– In 6 countries (Denmark , England , Germany, Holland , Norway and Sweden) from November 2012 to April 2013 there were 80 cases of hepatitis A in 15 confirmed (strain HAV genotype IB different from that isolated in the previous outbreak). No specific source of infection has yet been identified , but all cases have traveled to Egypt during the exposure period .

– There were 11 cases of hepatitis A in foreign tourists who stayed in Italy, where, in line at the time of incubation of the disease, could be of exposure.

– Ireland , the Netherlands and France have reported cases of hepatitis A associated with consumption of berries, caused by a virus identical to that of the epidemic Italian, with no history of travel in Italy.

In particular, EFSA will analyse information on the outbreaks provided by Member States. Hepatitis A is an infectious disease that can be transmitted through consumption of contaminated food or water or direct contact with an infectious person.

Mandate: Request to EFSA on scientific assistance in a multinational outbreak of Hepatitis A

See also: EFSA-ECDC joint technical report

Related articles: