Sucks to be a regulator: European food safety office evacuated after explosives found

The European Food Safety Authority in Parma, Italy, received a package with explosive material on Tuesday which a local bomb squad destroyed, police said.

A worker in the authority’s mail room called police after discovering a suspicious, book-sized package addressed to an employee who no longer worked at the authority, a police spokeswoman said.

The package contained a small amount of a powdered explosive material that was enough to maim, she said.

Two floors of the building where the authority is housed were temporarily evacuated while the bomb was neutralised la Repubblica newspaper’s website said.

EU data on veterinary drug residues in animals and food

European Food Safety Authority’s data report summarises the monitoring data from 2014, including compliance rates with EU residue limits, for a range of veterinary medicines, unauthorised substances and contaminants found in animals and animal-derived food.

abattoirs-anc-494x190Overall, 730,000 samples were reported in 2014 – a drop from the 1 million plus samples in last year’s report on 2013 data – from the 28 EU Member States.

In 2014, the level of non-compliance in targeted samples (i.e. samples taken to detect illegal use or check non-compliance with the maximum levels) rose slightly – to 0.37%, compared to 0.25%-0.34% over the previous seven years.

There was slightly higher non-compliance for resorcylic acid lactones (hormonally active compounds produced by fungi or man-made) and contaminants such as metals and mycotoxins (toxins produced by fungi).

The summary data reported suggest high rates of compliance overall and demonstrate the strengths of the EU monitoring system and its contribution to consumer protection.

Apricot kernels pose risk of cyanide poisoning

Eating more than one large or three small raw apricot kernels in a serving can exceed safe levels. Toddlers consuming even one small apricot kernel risk being over the safe level.

apricot_kernels_160427A naturally-occurring compound called amygdalin is present in apricot kernels and converts to cyanide after eating. Cyanide poisoning can cause nausea, fever, headaches, insomnia, thirst, lethargy, nervousness, joint and muscle various aches and pains, and falling blood pressure. In extreme cases it is fatal.

Studies indicate 0.5 to 3.5 milligrams (mg) cyanide per kilogram of body weight can be lethal. The European Food Safety Authority’s Scientific Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain set a safe level for a one-off exposure (known as the Acute Reference Dose, or “ARfD”) of 20 micrograms per kilogram of body weight. This is 25 times below the lowest reported lethal dose.

Based on these limits and the amounts of amygdalin typically present in raw apricot kernels, EFSA’s experts estimate that adults could consume one large or three small apricot kernels (370mg), without exceeding the ARfD. For toddlers the amount would be 60mg which is about half of one small kernel.

Apricot fruit is not affected

Normal consumption of apricot fruit does not pose a health risk to consumers. The kernel is the seed from inside the apricot stone. It is obtained by cracking open and removing the hard stone shell and, therefore, has no contact with the fruit.

Most raw apricot kernels sold in the EU are believed to be imported from outside the EU and marketed to consumers via the internet. Sellers promote them as a cancer-fighting food and some actively promote intakes of 10 and 60 kernels per day for the general population and cancer patients, respectively.

Evaluating the claimed benefits of raw apricot kernels for cancer treatment or any other use is outside EFSA’s food safety remit and was, therefore, not part of this scientific opinion.

EFSA consulted its partners in EU Member States to discuss this scientific opinion and previous assessments by national authorities (see report below). This risk assessment will inform risk managers in the European Commission and Member States who regulate EU food safety. They will decide if measures are needed to protect public health from consumption of raw apricot kernels.

It’s so simple, European style: What we can learn from menopause

The way scientists plan, verify and report how they use data and evidence is crucial for the transparency, impartiality and quality of scientific assessments. Our new interactive infographic provides an easy-to-follow overview to understand EFSA’s new approach for evidence use, developed in the context of the “Promoting methods for evidence use in scientific assessments” initiative.

This approach was first tested last year in a risk assessment for peri- and post-menopausal women taking food supplements containing isolated isoflavones. It is currently being implemented in further EFSA case-studies.

Yup, that’s it.

prometheus_160414d

I’m going back to pajamas: Food safety risk communication

 

The European Food Safety Authority has provided two new tools to assist with risk communication during a food safety outbreak.

spock.logicThe U.S. International Food Information Council says that “pajama-clad bloggers” can “cry wolf on a global stage” and that “every food-related kerfuffle becomes an opportunity for tweeting, fact or fiction, which is actually believed and followed by millions, fueled in large part by the fallibility of social media users themselves and an inability to judge risks rationally.”

If only we were ore rational (which means, see the world as I see the world, believe what I believe).

I’ll stick with the Europeans on this one.

EFSA created the guidelines together with EU Member States based on best practices gained from previous food-related crises. Developed in cooperation with members of EFSA’s Advisory Forum Communications Working Group, this document will help ensure consistency and coherence when communicating in a crisis.

Best practice for crisis communicators: How to communicate during food or feed safety incidents also clearly explains the role and responsibilities of EFSA and Member State organisations during the various phases of a crisis to improve preparedness for any future outbreaks that may cross borders.

In November 2015, EFSA carried out a simulation exercise with representatives of EU Member States, the European Commission and the World Health Organization. Their feedback was incorporated into the final version of the guidelines.

Shira Tabachnikoff, an international cooperation adviser at EFSA, said: “Preparation and cooperation are key elements to successfully communicating during a crisis. The simulation exercise brought home the need for a strong network and clear processes. These guidelines will prove useful if and when they are needed.” 

The crisis communication guidelines include templates such as a practical checklist, a media inquiry log and a social media comments log.

Can scrapie in sheep cause disease in humans?

On March 20, 1996, British Health Secretary Stephen Dorrell rose in the House to inform colleagues that scientists had discovered a new variant of Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (CJD) in 10 victims, and that they could not rule out a link with consumption of beef from cattle with bovine spongiform encephalapthy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease.

timmy.timeThe announcement of March 20, 1996 was the culmination of 15 years of mismanagement, political bravado and a gross underestimation of the public’s capacity to deal with risk.  More important than any of the several lessons to be drawn from the BSE fiasco was this: the risk of no-risk messages.  For 10 years the British government and leading scientific advisors insisted there was no risk — or that the risk was so infintesimly small that it could be said there was no risk — of BSE leading to a similar malady in humans, CJD, even in the face of contradictory evidence.  The no-risk message contributed to the devastating economic and social effects on Britons, a nation of beefeaters, the slaughter of over 1 million British cattle, and a decrease in global consumption of beef, especially in Japan, at a cost of billions of dollars.

Part of that logic stemmed from the apparent absence of zoonotic or human effects from the sheep transmissible spongiform Encephalopathy, scrapie, which had been know in the UK for hundreds of years.

mad.cows.mothers.milkEuropean researchers have now reviewed the available evidence.

The factors that modulate the transmissibility of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSE) and the approaches for the study of their zoonotic potential are reviewed. The paper ‘Evidence for zoonotic potential of ovine scrapie prions’ by Cassard et al. (2014) is scientifically appraised, focussing on the experimental design, the results and the conclusions.

The paper provides evidence in a laboratory experiment that some Classical scrapie isolates can propagate in humanised transgenic mice and produce prions that on second passage are similar to those causing one form of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD). It is concluded that the results from the study raise the possibility that scrapie prions have the potential to be zoonotic, but do not provide evidence that transmission can or does take place under field conditions.

The conclusions of the 2011 ECDC-EFSA ‘Joint Scientific Opinion on any possible epidemiological or molecular association between TSEs in animals and humans’ are reviewed in the light of the new scientific evidence available since its publication. This supports and strengthens the conclusions of that opinion with regard to the potential for some animal TSE to be zoonotic, but does not provide evidence of a causal link between Classical or Atypical scrapie and human TSE. Current evidence does not establish this link, and no consistent risk factors have been identified for sCJD.

shaun.sheep
The possibility of scrapie-related public health risks from the consumption of ovine products cannot be assessed. Recommendations are formulated on further studies and data that are needed to investigate the zoonotic potential of animal TSE and to estimate the amount of infectivity from TSE-infected products sourced from small ruminants and entering the food chain in the European Union.

Scientific Opinion on a request for a review of a scientific publication concerning the zoonotic potential of ovine scrapie prions

EFSA Journal 2015;13(8):4197 [58 pp.]. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2015.4197

EFSA Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ)

http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/4197.htm?utm_source=feed&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ej

http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/4197.htm?utm_source=feed&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ej

I volunteer: Study on THC in animal products

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was asked to deliver a scientific opinion on the risks for human health related to the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in milk and other food of animal origin.

thcTHC, more precisely delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) is derived from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. In fresh plant material, up to 90 % of total Δ9-THC is present as the non-psychoactive precursor Δ9-THC acid. Since few data on Δ9-THC levels in foods of animal origin were available, the Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM Panel) estimated acute human dietary exposure to Δ9-THC combining different scenarios for the presence of Δ9-THC in hemp seed-derived feed materials.

Acute exposure to Δ9-THC from the consumption of milk and dairy products ranged between 0.001 and 0.03 µg/kg body weight (b.w.) per day in adults, and 0.006 and 0.13 µg/kg b.w. per day in toddlers. From human data, the CONTAM Panel concluded that 2.5 mg Δ9-THC/day, corresponding to 0.036 mg Δ9-THC/kg b.w. per day, represents the lowest observed adverse effect level. By applying an overall uncertainty factor of 30, an acute reference dose (ARfD) of 1 μg Δ9-THC/kg b.w. was derived. The exposure estimates are at most 3 % and 13 % the ARfD, in adults and toddlers, respectively.

The CONTAM Panel concluded that exposure to Δ9-THC via consumption of milk and dairy products, resulting from the use of hemp seed-derived feed materials at the reported concentrations, is unlikely to pose a health concern.

A risk assessment resulting from the use of whole hemp plant-derived feed materials is currently not feasible due to a lack of occurrence data. The CONTAM Panel could also not conclude on the possible risks to public health from exposure to Δ9-THC via consumption of animal tissues and eggs, due to a lack of data on the potential transfer and fate of Δ9-THC.

 Scientific Opinion on the risks for human health related to the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in milk and other food of animal origin

EFSA Journal 2015;13(6):4141[125 pp.]

EFSA

http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/4141.htm?utm_source=feed&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ej

EU report provides basis for effective fight against development of resistant bacteria

The European Food Safety Authority reports the use of certain antimicrobials in animals and humans is associated with resistance to these antimicrobials in bacteria from animals and humans. There are also important differences in the consumption of antimicrobials in animals and in humans between European countries. These are some of the findings of the first integrated analysis of data from humans, animals and food in Europe published jointly by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

The ECDC/EFSA/EMA first joint report on the integrated analysis of the consumption of antimicrobial agents and occurrence of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria from humans and food-producing animals also identifies data limitations that need to be addressed to allow further analysis and conclusions to be drawn. These include additional data on antimicrobial consumption by animal species, data on antimicrobial consumption in hospitals in more European countries and monitoring of resistant bacteria in the normal flora from both healthy and diseased people.

ab.res.prudent.may.14The analysis was carried out at the request of the European Commission and combines data from five European monitoring networks that gather information from the European Union (EU) Member States, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

This holistic approach aims to make better use of the existing data and thus strengthen coordinated surveillance systems on antimicrobial consumption and antimicrobial resistance in human and veterinary medicine, and to allow policy makers to decide on the best way to tackle antimicrobial resistance in humans and animals.

The joint report will inform the European Commission’s action plan against the rising threats from antimicrobial resistance. The data will also contribute to establishing strong methodologies and priorities in the fight against the development of antimicrobial resistance.

This is the first in a series of reports that EMA, EFSA and ECDC are planning to publish based on the data collected by various monitoring networks.

Access to accurate data on the use of antimicrobials and the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance is an essential step to develop and monitor policies that minimise the development of resistance and keep antimicrobials effective for future generations.

Thanks Batz: Scientific opinion on the development of a risk ranking toolbox for the EFSA BIOHAZ Panel

EFSA Panel on Biological Hazards

EFSA Journal 2015;13(1):3939 [131 pp.]. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2015.3939

risk.ranking.efsa.jan.15Eight tools relevant to risk ranking of biological hazards in food were identified and assessed using two case studies.

Differences in their performance were observed, related to the risk metrics, data requirements, ranking approach, model type, model variables and data integration. Quantitative stochastic models are the most reliable for risk ranking. However, this approach needs good characterisation of input parameters.

The use of deterministic models that ignore variability may result in risk ranking errors. The ordinal scoring approaches in semi-quantitative models provide ranking with more errors than the deterministic approaches. FDA (Food and Drug Administration)-iRISK was identified as the most appropriate tool for risk ranking of microbiological hazards.

The Burden of Communicable Diseases in Europe (BCoDE) toolkit can be used in combination with the outputs from FDA-iRISK or as a top-down tool to rank pathogens. Uncertainty needs to be addressed and communicated to decision makers and stakeholders as one of the outcomes of the risk ranking process. Uncertainty and variability can be represented by means of probability distributions. Techniques such as the NUSAP (numeral, unit, spread, assessment and pedigree) approach can also be used to prioritise factors for sensitivity and scenario analysis or stochastic modelling. Quantitative risk ranking models are preferred over semi-quantitative models. When data and time constraints do not allow quantitative risk ranking, semi-quantitative models could be used, but the limitations of these approaches linked to the selection and integration of the ordinal scores should be made explicit.

Decision trees should be used only to show how decisions are made about classifying food–pathogen combinations into broad categories. BCoDE and FDA-iRISK, in combination with a network of available predictive microbiology tools, databases and information sources, can form a risk ranking toolbox and be applied based on a “fit for purpose” approach supporting timely and transparent risk ranking.

Raw milk risks: a science perspective from Europe

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concludes that raw milk can carry harmful bacteria that can cause serious illness. Implementing current good hygiene practices at farms is essential to reduce raw milk contamination, while maintaining the cold chain is also important to prevent or slow the growth of bacteria in raw milk. However, these practices alone do not eliminate these risks. Boiling raw milk before consumption is the best way to kill many of the bacteria that can make people sick.

Spew milkConsumer interest in drinking raw milk has been growing in the European Union (EU) as many people believe it has health benefits. Under EU hygiene rules, Member States can prohibit or restrict the placing on the market of raw milk intended for human consumption. Sale of raw drinking milk through vending machines is permitted in some Member States, but consumers are usually instructed to boil the milk before consumption.

In their scientific opinion on public health risks associated with raw milk in the EU, experts from EFSA’s Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ) conclude that raw milk can be a source of harmful bacteria – mainly Campylobacter, Salmonella, and Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC).

The Panel could not quantify the public health risks associated with drinking raw milk in the EU due to data gaps. However, according to Member State data on food-borne disease outbreaks, between 2007 and 2013, 27 outbreaks were due to the consumption of raw milk.

Most of them – 21 – were caused by Campylobacter, one was caused by Salmonella, two by STEC and three by tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV).  A large majority of the outbreaks were due to raw cow’s milk, while a few of them originated from raw goat’s milk.

“There is a need for improved communication to consumers on the hazards and control measures associated with consumption of raw drinking milk,” says John Griffin, Chair of the BIOHAZ Panel.

Infants, children, pregnant women, old people and those with a weakened immune system have a higher risk of falling ill from drinking raw milk.  

Abstract

Raw drinking milk (RDM) has a diverse microbial flora which can include pathogens transmissible to humans. The main microbiological hazards associated with RDM from cows, sheep and goats, horses and donkeys and camels were identified using a decision tree approach.

raw.milkThis considered evidence of milk-borne infection and the hazard being present in the European Union (EU), the impact of the hazard on human health and whether there was evidence for RDM as an important risk factor in the EU.

The main hazards were Campylobacter spp., Salmonella spp., shigatoxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC), Brucella melitensis, Mycobacterium bovis and tick-borne encephalitis virus, and there are clear links between drinking raw milk and human illness associated with these hazards.

A quantitative microbiological risk assessment for these hazards could not be undertaken because country and EU-wide data are limited. Antimicrobial resistance has been reported in several EU countries in some of the main bacterial hazards isolated from raw milk or associated equipment and may be significant for public health. Sale of RDM through vending machines is permitted in some EU countries, although consumers purchasing such milk are usually instructed to boil the milk before consumption, which would eliminate microbiological risks. With respect to internet sales of RDM, there is a need for microbiological, temperature and storage time data to assess the impact of this distribution route. Intrinsic contamination of RDM with pathogens can arise from animals with systemic infection as well as from localised infections such as mastitis.

Raw-Milk-Card-FrontExtrinsic contamination can arise from faecal contamination and from the wider farm environment. It was not possible to rank control options as no single step could be identified which would significantly reduce risk relative to a baseline of expected good practice, although potential for an increase in risk was also noted. Improved risk communication to consumers is recommended.

Summary

Following a request from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the EFSA Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ) was asked to deliver a scientific opinion on the public health risks related to the consumption of raw drinking milk (RDM). In particular, the BIOHAZ Panel was requested to identify the main microbiological hazards of public health significance that may occur in RDM from different animal species, to assess the public health risk arising from the consumption of RDM, to assess the likelihood of RDM being a significant source of antimicrobial resistant bacteria/resistance genes, to assess the additional risks associated with the sale of RDM through vending machines and via the internet and to identify and rank potential control options to reduce public health risks arising from consumption of RDM.

According to European Union (EU) legislation, “raw milk” is defined as milk produced by the secretion of the mammary gland of farmed animals that has not been heated to more than 40 °C or undergone any treatment that has an equivalent effect (Regulation (EC) No 853/2004). A top-down four-step decision tree was used to identify the main microbiological hazards associated with RDM of different milk-producing species in the EU. Microbiological hazards that can be transmitted to humans through milk and which were reported from cows, sheep and goats, horses and donkeys and camels in the EU were listed. Those hazards which could be transmitted via milk but were not reported from milk-producing animals in the EU were excluded from further consideration. Microbiological hazards identified as potentially transmissible through milk and present in the EU milk-producing animal population included the bacteria Campylobacter spp. (thermophilic), Salmonella spp., shigatoxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC), Bacillus cereus, Brucella abortus, Brucella melitensis, Listeria monocytogenes, Mycobacterium bovis, Staphylococcus aureus, Yersinia enterocolitica, Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, Corynebacterium spp., Streptococcus suis subsp. zooepidemicus,the parasites Toxoplasma gondii and Cryptosporidium parvum and the virus tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV). Those hazards transmissible via milk of one species and present in the EU were also considered to be potentially transmissible by milk of other species if present in the EU.

napoleon milkEvidence for RDM as an important risk factor for human infection in the EU was based on epidemiological evidence that the hazard has been associated with illness from the consumption of RDM in the EU, the extent of occurrence of the hazard in different milk-producing species in the EU, the prevalence of the hazard in milk bulk tanks or retail RDM in the EU, and expert opinion. Between 2007 and 2012 there were 27 reported outbreaks in the EU involving RDM. Of these, 21 were attributed to Campylobacter spp., predominantly C. jejuni, one to Salmonella Typhimurium, two to STEC and three to TBEV. Four of the 27 outbreaks were due to raw milk from goats, the rest being attributed to raw milk from cows. The published literature was also considered, which highlighted additional outbreaks of TBEV and outbreaks of B. melitensis, M. bovis and STEC, although some of these were prior to 2007. No outbreaks attributable to L. monocytogenes in RDM were reported between 2007 and 2012.

STEC, Salmonella spp. and Campylobacter spp. are essentially ubiquitous pathogens and are likely to be found in milk-producing animals and their milk throughout the EU, as indicated by prevalence data from raw milk testing. TBEV was also considered to be a main hazard based on outbreak data, together with evidence of spread in Europe and the virus being detected in raw milk. B. melitensis and M. bovis have been associated with outbreaks involving raw milk, but these are less common and more geographically restricted than the other pathogens and control programmes in Europe have generally been successful in reducing human disease from these pathogens.

For other hazards, epidemiological evidence of illness was either historical or limited to reports from outside Europe. L. monocytogenes infection is associated with a high mortality rate in vulnerable groups, and the organism was as frequent as Campylobacter and STEC in raw milk. The lack of robust epidemiological data (including outbreaks) linking listeriosis to consumption of raw milk in Europe meant that it could not be considered a main hazard. The ability of L. monocytogenes to grow at chill temperatures, coupled with its prevalence in raw milk, suggests that further study in relation to RDM may be justified, particularly as several risk assessment models outside Europe have already been developed for this pathogen.

colbert.raw.milkThere is a clear link between drinking raw milk and human illness with Campylobacter spp., S. Typhimurium, STEC, TBEV, B. melitensis and M. bovis, with the potential for severe health consequences in some individual patients. Owing to the lack of epidemiological data, the burden of disease linked to the consumption of raw milk could not be assessed. Published quantitative microbiological risk assessment (QMRA) models from Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Italy, for Salmonella spp., Campylobacter spp., STEC O157 and L. monocytogenes in RDM from cows, were reviewed to identify their strengths and limitations. No QMRAs were available for RDM of other species. The risk estimates provided by the QMRA models reviewed cannot be extrapolated to the European situation as a whole. The outputs from the Australian and New Zealand risk assessments for STEC O157 and Salmonella spp. estimate a high level of milk contamination, which contrasts with the outputs from the risk assessment for these pathogens in RDM in one region of northern Italy, where the risk associated with STEC O157 was estimated as very low because of model uncertainty. Similarly, the Australian and New Zealand risk assessments predicted a higher risk for Campylobacter spp. than the risk assessment conducted in one region of northern Italy, largely as a result of differences in the extent of faecal contamination. From the model used in the Australian study it can be concluded that improving on-farm hygiene leads to a decrease in the number of predicted cases of illness due to Campylobacter spp., Salmonella spp. and STEC O157 from the consumption of RDM. A QMRA could have helped in further estimating the public health risks and evaluating the effect of the mitigation options in Europe for these hazards, but could not be undertaken because country and EU-wide data are limited.

Antimicrobial resistance has been reported in several EU countries in isolates of Campylobacter spp., Salmonella spp., STEC and S. aureus from raw milk or associated equipment such as milk filters, and may be significant for public health. Such isolates have been primarily associated with raw milk from bovine animals, which may reflect the more limited screening of milk from other species. Strains of Campylobacter spp., and particularly C. jejuni, exhibiting resistance predominantly to tetracyclines but also to some other antimicrobials have been reported in two Member States (MS). There have been no reports of antimicrobial resistance in isolates of Salmonella spp. from outbreaks associated with raw/unpasteurised in the EU in countries other than the UK. In the USA, there has been a report of a raw milk-associated outbreak caused by multidrug-resistant (MDR) S. Typhimurium, with a single fatality ascribed to resistance of the organism to antibiotics. Despite STEC O157 being the organism most commonly associated with RDM-related outbreaks of STEC gastrointestinal illness in several EU countries, little information is available about the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance in such outbreak strains. Antimicrobial resistance has been reported in a water buffalo raw milk-associated STEC O26 outbreak in one MS in 2008 and in raw milk-associated STEC outbreaks in the USA. Antimicrobial resistance in isolates of L. monocytogenes from raw milk and raw milk dairy products has only rarely been reported in EU countries.

Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has not been isolated during outbreaks of infection associated with RDM in EU countries. Although not typically regarded as a food-borne pathogen, there have been increasing reports of the isolation of MRSA from dairy farms and bulk tank milk in several EU MS. Although identified in E. coli in bovine animals in some MS, extended spectrum beta lactamase (ESBL)/AmpC gene-carrying bacteria have not been reported in RDM in EU MS. In the USA, a range of Salmonella serovars with ESBL/AmpC genes have been identified in raw milk surveys.

Sale of RDM through vending machines is permitted in some EU MS, with considerable variation in the number of machines in different countries. There is little indication of RDM other than cow’s milk being sold through vending machines. Although vending machines dispense drinking milk in a raw state, consumers are usually instructed to boil the milk prior to consumption. If consumers were to comply with these instructions, the microbiological risks associated with raw milk would be eliminated. The temperature of RDM in vending machines is generally kept below 4 °C and therefore variability in milk temperature is more likely to arise between the farm and vending machine and between the vending machine and point of consumption by the consumer. One study in Italy demonstrated that temperature variability in the supply chain from farm to consumer could potentially result in the multiplication of L. monocytogenes, S. Typhimurium and STECO157:H7.

Fresh and frozen RDM of different species (cows, goats, sheep and camels) is available via internet sales although there are no data on the microbiological or temperature controls for these milks from the bulk milk tank through to the point of consumption. The variability in temperature control and duration of storage by consumers would contribute to the multiplication of some pathogens if these are present in the milk.

The steps in the production to consumption chain for RDM present many opportunities for contamination by microorganisms, some of which may be transmissible to humans. Intrinsic contamination of milk can arise from systemic infection in the milk-producing animal as well as from localised infections, such as mastitis. Extrinsic contamination of milk can arise from faecal contamination and from the wider farm environment associated with collection and storage of milk. Observance of good animal health and husbandry, together with the application of good agricultural practices (GAPs) and good hygienic practices (GHPs), are essential to minimise opportunities for contamination of RDM with pathogens in the production to consumption chain for RDM. No single step could be identified which would provide a significant reduction in risk relative to a baseline of expected good animal health and welfare and good agricultural and hygienic practices. Therefore, it was not possible to rank control options with respect to risk reduction since any deviations from the expected “best practice” baseline are likely to result in an increase in risk.

The reviewed QMRA models identified on-farm hygiene control and maintenance of the cold chain as factors influencing the outcome of the models for some pathogens. Although L. monocytogenes is not considered to be one of the main hazards associated with RDM in the EU, the reviewed QMRAs from outside the EU do show that the risk associated with L. monocytogenes in raw cow’s milk can be mitigated and reduced significantly if the cold chain is well controlled, the shelf-life of raw milk is limited to a few days and there is consumer compliance with these measures/controls.

The BIOHAZ Panel identified several recommendations arising from the opinion. There is a need for a better evidence base to inform future prioritisation and ranking approaches and studies should be undertaken to systematically collect data for source attribution for the hazards identified as associated with RDM and collect data to identify and rank emerging milk-borne hazards. Because of the diverse range of potential microbiological hazards associated with different milk-producing animals, hazard identification should be revisited regularly. There is a need for validated growth and survival models for pathogens in RDM of different milk-producing species, particularly in relation to the temperature and storage time of RDM from the producer up to the point of consumption. Finally, the Panel recommended that there should be improved risk communication to consumers, particularly susceptible/high risk populations, regarding the hazards and control methods associated with consumption of RDM.