Here’s Isobel, one of Biddy Fraser Davies four cows. Biddy makes about $40,000 of cheese from her four cows. Her cheeses have won super gold and silver at World Cheese Awards. She milks the cows herself and makes the cheese. But The Food Safety Law Reform Bill may increase compliance costs to the extent that Biddy may no longer be able to sustain her craft and passion. We prefer to see scale appropriate legislation that reflects true levels of risk, rather than legislation that is designed for large scale operations. This are similar issues around access to unprocessed milk and meat processing.
Food safety legislation impacts on small producers and consumers in many ways.
Unprocessed milk and cheese
Here is MPI information on Raw Milk regulations. For decades thousands of dairy farmers around New Zealand have been drinking unprocessed milk. There is very little evidence of illnesses connected to this. A three year old boy died in Australia in 2014, and the coroner found unprocessed milk to be the cause. In response, Australian legislators now require “bath milk” to include a bittering agent, to deter people from drinking it and those supplying unprocessed milk for drinking can be fined $Aus 60,000.
If we calculate risk as the likelihood of occurrence and its impact, surely the risk posed by increased consumption of unprocessed milk is minimal. Contrast this with the risk posed by the continued consumption of sugar.
This webpage from Dr Mercola’s website outlines the health benefits of organic raw milk.
Interestingly, high quality raw organic milk has its own built in “immune system” of sorts. The elevated white blood cell count in raw milk actually helps reduce your risk of contracting food poisoning. Similarly, the microorganisms found in raw milk cheese effectively limit the growth of potentially harmful organisms.6
Pasteurized milk and cheese do not have this protective quality, which helps explain why they pose a far greater threat than raw milk and cheese when it comes to food poisoning. Pasteurizing milk also destroys enzymes, diminishes vitamins, denatures fragile milk proteins, destroys vitamin B12 and vitamin B6, kills beneficial bacteria, and promotes the growth of pathogens.
This article from the Green Med Info website also outlines the virtues of raw milk.
This video features Kate Greeneklee talks about raw milk. It is very informative.
Here is a post from this site on Biddy Fraser Davies’s cheese production.
Local growers are concerned about the impact of the Food Safety Law Reform Bill. This post outlines those concerns.
Those raising animals organically for meat find it difficult to get cost-effective ways to have their animals killed and processed. If they send animals through conventional abattoirs they don’t receive any premium for organic meat. Even getting animals transported can be an issue. Northland organic farmers have experienced anti-competitive behaviours intended to shut down organic enterprises.
Fortunately, most red meat in New Zealand is grass fed, but pork and chicken are typically factory farmed and alternatives white meats are hard to find. Did you know that chicken meat is bleached, both for sanitisation and appearance.