Manufacturing raw milk products
Some unpasteurised or raw milk products can be manufactured in NZ or imported. Find out about the requirements you must meet to ensure these products are safe and suitable.
The regulatory framework around unpasteurised or raw milk products aims to ensure a low level of risk to the general population. This is because some of these products can pose health hazards to consumers, particularly to people who are very young, very old, pregnant, or have immune system disorders. There is more information about the risks to consumers on the FoodSmart website.
Raw milk products – what they are
Under the legislation, the definition of raw or unpasteurised milk and milk products is very specific.
Raw milk is produced under registered Risk Management Programme (RMP) but has not been subjected to any processing, such as heat treatment, intended to alter the quality or composition characteristics of the milk.
Raw milk product is a processed dairy product that has not received a pathogen elimination step. As a result, disease-causing organisms in the milk products may survive. Under legislation, the types of pathogens are specified and they must not exceed levels specified in the food safety criteria. Raw milk product does not include raw drinking milk and is not made from colostrum.
You can find out more in this Notice.
Meeting the requirements
If you process raw milk products in New Zealand or import them for sale, then you need to meet requirements that apply specifically to these products. Here are the standards and specifications for producing and importing unpasteurised milk products.
Processing and manufacturing raw milk products
If you process raw or unpasteurised milk products, your Risk Management Programme (RMP) must address additional measures so it covers raw milk. You can find the requirements in the following Notice.
A Code of Practice (COP) can help you meet the requirements of the Notice. It can be simpler and easier to register your RMP if it follows the provisions in the COP.
If you are a processor interested in raw milk products, this report provides background information about the potential hazards from pathogens in raw milk produced in New Zealand.
An amendment in 2009 to the 2007 Standard for prescribed foods concerrns raw milk products. You can read the amendment by clicking on the following link.
Importing raw milk products
If milk products have not been pasteurised or treated in another way permitted by MPI, then they cannot be imported. Agreements between the New Zealand government, the European Union and Switzerland allow some cheeses made from raw milk to be imported into New Zealand. You can find a full explanation of the permitted methods and approved overseas standards in the 2009 Standard.
Selling unpasteurised milk
Under section 11A of the Food Act 1981, you can sell up to 5 litres of the unpasteurised milk from their farm gate at one time under the following conditions:
- the milk is harvested under a registered RMP that has been approved for this purpose
- whoever buys it must intend to consume it themselves or within their family.
Science reports and research
MPI’s food science research into the raw dairy products and dairy product food safety has reported on disease associated with the consumption of raw milk and cheeses. You can find these in the Science & research section of the website.
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