NSW Food Authority issues caution against consumption of “cosmetic” milk

According to a media release on the New South Wales Food Authority website, the Iemma Government has issued a warning for consumers not to drink raw or unpasteurised milk marketed as pet food or for “cosmetic” use as it is a potential health hazard.

Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald was cited as saying that the NSW Food Authority had received complaints from the public that rogue retailers are selling deceptively labelled unpasteurised milk as a product fit for human consumption.

“To put it simply, any dairy products labelled as ‘pet food’ or ‘for cosmetic use’, have not been through the Food Authority’s stringent food safety management programs and I would urge consumers not to buy them,” Minister Macdonald was quoted as saying.

The Iemma Government through the NSW Food Authority is currently investigating reports of several retailers illegally selling raw milk for human consumption. The sale of these types of raw dairy products for human consumption is illegal in Australia. The Food Act provides penalties of up to $275,000 for the sale of unpasteurised milk. A similar warning was issued in September by Dairy Food Safety Victoria when it found some retailers in that State were engaging in the same practice.

For a summary of raw milk outbreaks click here.

Raw milk making its mark on the Welsh market

According to icWales, the best source for Welsh news, the latest food fad to hit Wales is… RAW milk.

Sold in green-topped bottles, farm shops in Wales are said to be reporting a sharp increases in sales.

Steve Oultram, who owns Newbridge Farm Shop in Ewloe, was cited as saying that his family had been selling raw milk for more than 50 years, but had noticed that it had become more popular recently.

He was quoted as saying, “There’s no doubt that the demand for raw milk is increasing all the time as more people are made aware of it. We have people coming here from considerable distances … We’ve even started sending it out through mail order because of the demand.”

Mr Oultram was further cited as saying that some of his customers had used the milk to help them combat illnesses. “One person who used to come to us had quite an advanced cancer. She said that the milk was helping so much that she wasn’t having to take as much medicine. And another guy has been buying it for his son who has bad eczema, and he’s said that it’s made a tremendous difference.”

The story notes that there have been reports raw milk could be banned in Wales and England – as it has been in Scotland for more than 20 years. Legislation introduced in January this year means that Welsh retailers of raw milk must now have a licence, as well as carry a warning on the bottle that the milk is not pasteurised. Also, they are also forced by the Food Standards Agency to have a sample of the milk tested every three months to check that it contains no harmful bacteria.

With proper testing, it may be possible to offer a safe, unpasteurized product to the consuming public. But the onus is on producers to show the rest of us that data. Adults, do whatever you think works, but please, don’t impose your dietary regimes on your kids. For a summary of raw milk outbreaks click here.

MSU saying we’d rather be safe than sorry – no more beef

The State News, the student newspaper of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, today reports that students on MSU’s meal plan craving a hamburger or sausage patty will have to look elsewhere.

The story says that the university has pulled all ground beef products from cafeterias in response to a call from its meat supplier, who is testing its beef for E. coli contamination.

According to an Oct. 5 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 32 cases of foodborne illnesses under investigation in eight states. No cases were under investigation in Michigan.

Mike Rice, director of Auxiliary Services, was cited as saying pulling the ground beef was a voluntary effort. No beef shipped to MSU has been proven to be contaminated with E. coli.

“Whatever it takes to keep the beef safe, that’s what we’ve got to do,” Rice was quoted as saying.

Vennie Gore, assistant vice president for Housing and Food Services, was cited as saying that he expects the testing to be complete in the next few days.

Until then, chicken burgers and other alternatives will replace the ground beef products.
“We’d rather be safe than sorry,” Gore added.

Dyed raw milk: Not without a fight

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today reports that the proposal to start dyeing raw milk to discourage human consumption has stirred up enough opposition that the Georgia Department of Agriculture has decided to hold a public hearing on Nov. 2.

Pet dairy farmers and raw milk lovers are said to be fighting the dye proposal and seeking legislative help. Originally, the department planned to take written comments and issue new rules on Oct. 25.

The hearing starts at 9 a.m. Nov. 2 in Room 201 of the Agriculture Building, 19 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Atlanta.


Give me your best yuck face

Elizabeth Lee today reports in the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that to discourage people from drinking raw milk, the Georgia Department of Agriculture is proposing dyeing it charcoal gray.

The story says that raw milk can be sold as pet food in Georgia, if it is labeled appropriately. But it’s no secret that people buy the unpasteurized milk to drink themselves, to give to their children or to use in cheese-making.

The department, which notified pet dairy farmers of proposed changes Sept. 24, is said to be committed to making the change, although it is asking for comments through Oct. 24 and will make its decision Oct. 25.

Last month, the Greensboro News and Record reported on a new rule approved by the state Board of Agriculture in North Carolina outlining that unpasteurized milk sold as pet food must be dyed a charcoal-gray color and labeled as not for human consumption. The story explained that the charcoal color was chosen to clearly differentiate the product from standard milk and make raw milk unappealing to children.

Will charcoal dyeing catch on in other states where raw milk sales are permitted for animal consumption – Florida? Indiana?

Stressed? A shot of straight whiskey, err, I mean super-premium milk

The Agence France Presse today reports that a Japanese dairy company on Thursday announced the launch of super-premium milk for stressed-out adults — at the price of $43 for a 900 mL, or 1 qt bottle.

According to the story, Tokyo-based Nakazawa Foods will launch the "Adult Milk" line of products in October targeting "adults who live in a stressful society."

The price of 5,000 yen ($43) a bottle is nearly 30 times as expensive as ordinary milk even in Tokyo, which is famous for its high prices.

The milk is taken from cows once a week at the break of dawn as they discharge a lot of a stress-relieving hormone called melatonin during the night.

The milk is bottled within six hours of milking at a farm north of Tokyo and is said to contain three to four times as much melatonin as usual milk.

Fall season brings fresh warnings

The Topeka Capital-Journal has reminded its readers that children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems shouldn’t be served unpasteurized apple juice or other unpasteurized products, such as apple cider.

As with raw milk, there are many people who seek unpasteurized juice and cider on the misguided belief that the more natural the food, the better — tastier, healthier, and safer.

However, due to outbreaks of salmonellosis, E. coli, cryptosporidiosis, cholera and other serious illnesses from unpasteurized juices and apple cider, the FDA requires that virtually all fruit and vegetable juice producers follow HACCP controls using technologies such as heat pasteurization or UV treatment. All apple cider sold in the US, other than sales directly to consumers by producers, must be produced using HACCP principles to achieve a 5-log reduction in pathogens.

So, if you happen to come along a roadside stand, or a shack with a fridge full of unpasteurized apple cider while touring country roads and enjoying fall’s splendor, don’t be tempted. It doesn’t matter how much you like the person selling the product, be informed that consumption (without boiling) carries a risk of foodborne illness. And please, avoid serving unpasteurized products to those most at risk — your children.

1/4 of NYC restaurants failing health inspections

The Nation’s Restaurant News reported Friday that New York City public health inspectors are failing approximately one-quarter of the restaurants they examine.

In the report released Thursday, the health department was cited as saying that approximately 25% of the nearly 30,000 restaurants visited by health inspectors in FY ’07 flunked their initial inspections. The failure rate hovered around 20% in FY ’06.

In 48% of the failed inspections, the city’s health inspectors cited “signs of active rats.”

The statistics were released as part of the Mayor’s Management Report, which reviews the performance of city agencies on a semi-annual basis.

The vibrant life of oraganics, it’s what we like – really

Julie Scelfo reports in the Sept. 24, 2007 issue of Newsweek that the boom in restaurants serving local organic produce has come with an unexpected downside: more bugs in our food (you don’t say). She writes that without pesticides to deter them, aphids, ladybugs, caterpillars and beetles are tagging along on the journey from farm to kitchen to dinner table with greater frequency. But the reactions among diners, she says, are as diverse as the critters they’re finding on their plates.

Some are said to be furious, especially considering they’re paying more for organic food (a lot more) — but a surprising number are cheered. To those customers, Scelfo writes that such uninvited guests are proof that the produce really is fresh and pesticide-free.

Ben Long, a communications consultant and foodie from Kalispell, Mont, is quoted as saying "I, for one, would much prefer a bug on my plate to pesticide in my bloodstream."

And sometimes it’s more than just a bug, the story continues. When Richard Samaniego, chef at California’s Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, opened a box of organic lettuce last year, a frog jumped out. He was quoted as saying, "It was a good thing I found it before we started chopping."

Recipe for success: Talking food safety in Illinois

Continuing to expose iFSN’s hard work and dedication to developing a culture of food safety, I’m seated in a hotel conference room in Champaign, IL for the second day of the 8th Annual Food Safety Symposium sponsored by the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

Yesterday I spoke to an audience of about 300 government and industry types about: Pushing the Boundaries: Influencing a Culture of Food Safety. The response to some of the stuff that our group is saying (Don’t Eat Poop) and doing (delivering eccentric messages, using new technology portals and online social networks) drew an impressive response from the crowd.

From a fan e-mail:

I am attending a Food Safety Symposium here in Champaign, Illinois … I teach food safety for a Burger KIng Franchise here in Illinois, and cannot wait to add some of your stuff to my classes. I work with so many young people, and iFSN’s approach to situations made them down to earth and real. Thanks for the great ideas. I’m a Grandma … so I really need to stay attached to you guys to keep my classes fresh and UTD. LOVED IT!