Government Intends to ban the sale of Raw Milk in Ireland
Further details and updates at www.rawmilkireland.com
Sheridans Cheesemongers' Position
We in Sheridans believe that everyone has a right to drink one of Irelands best products; milk – in its pure unadulterated creamy and delicious form - raw milk.
We have been selling raw milk from David Tiernan’s farm in Dunleer, Co. Louth in our shops since November 2010 and have had a fantastic response from customers. We are also aware of two other producers in Ireland selling raw milk. Darina Allen; at her Ballymaloe farm shop in Cork and Aidan Harney from his farm in Ballymore Eustace, Co. Kildare.
Exercise your right to choose and try it while you still can.
Whilst back in 2008 a public consultation was undertaken regarding the sale of raw goat’s and sheep’s milk, there has been no public consultation regarding raw cow’s milk.
17 submissions were received in relation to the public consultation in 2008, yet requests made under the freedom of information act in relation to these submissions and in relation to the drafting of legislation to Ban Raw Milk have been recently denied.[i]
The choice is the key point here...
We want to ensure that we have an open and public debate about the issue and that the government conducts themselves in a transparent manner.
It should be noted that request made under the freedom of information act in relation to the drafting of legislation to Ban Raw Milk have been recently denied. [ii]
By banning raw milk we are sending the message to the world that we don’t trust our regulators, we don’t trust our farmers and we don’t trust our milk.
We would welcome and encourage regulations on the sale of raw milk...as with any other food proper regulation is necessary and correct.
At present the sale of raw milk is legal because of a 2007 EU directive[iii].
Four years later the FSAI have not introduced guidelines or imposed regulations on the sale of raw milk. Yet it is by no means desirable that every dairy farm in Ireland be permitted to sell raw milk.
The solution that the FSAI have come up with is an outright ban, whereas for other foods produced, where there is a potential risk to public health; regulations, rather than bans have been imposed.
Examples are Shellfish, Raw milk cheese, Beef, Chicken, Eggs
The odd and confusing contradictions about the ban: From a scientific stand point ‘risk analysis’ is a key term – there does not appear to us to be a difference in the results of risk analysis performed for soft raw milk cheese which is sold young and for liquid milk, yet the government (thankfully) does not propose a ban on raw milk cheese - instead producers are heavily regulated.
The government is not proposing a ban on raw milk butter, citing as their reason, the addition of salt [iv], yet there is also no legislation being drafted to cover unsalted butter and - in any event, addition of salt is not a substitution for destroying pathogens as happens with Pasteurisation (heat treatment to 72°C for 15-20 seconds)
A Missed Small Business opportunity?
Raw milk production is a very real and viable business model for small farmers, servicing their local communities who could modify existing facilities and put a single refrigerated delivery vehicle on the road with only a relatively modest investment and would be more than happy to operate under fair regulations.
Currently farmers selling milk to Co-ops get 0.33c to 0.35c per litre [v].
Raw milk is being sold direct from the farmer at a retail price of approximately €1.50 - €2.00 per litre. The average price of a litre of pasteurised homogenised commercially processed milk in supermarkets is from about €1.20 - €1.60 [vi].
It is not simply about cutting out the middlemen, consumers recognise economies of scale for these small farmers and as such are prepared to pay a premium probably even well above current raw milk prices.
Our desired outcome is that regulations on the sale of raw liquid milk in Ireland are imposed. The aim of this is to allow consumers the freedom to make an informed choice whilst also minimising and managing potential risks.
This approach is taken with every other foodstuff, why not raw milk?
What You Can Do...
Contact the following, preferably by email and by post.
Your local Politicians
(Click the link above to find contact details for TDs in your area)
The Minister for Agriculture Fisheries & Food Simon Coveney
Minister Simon Coveney
Emails and letters can also be addressed directly to the Department:
Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Food
If you are a member of a farming or agriculture organisation such as Macra Na Feirme, IFA or ICSA or indeed any other relevant organisation, ask them to lobby on your behalf.
Slow Food Ireland also has an online petition for which you can register your details.
It is worth bearing in mind that there has obviously been a lot more money and time available to the anti-raw milk campaign in that it is supported by large business worldwide.
There are also plenty of emotive statements made on both sides not backed up by scientific fact.
So read and research, but as ever read with caution!
[i] Article by Ella McSweeney in The Examiner, Farming Supplement 23rd June 2011
[ii] Article by Ella McSweeney in The Examiner, Farming Supplement 23rd June 2011
[iii] Under EU law (2007) EC 178/2002, it is legal for a farmer to sell raw milk. This rescinded Irish law (1997) which banned the sale of raw milk.
[iv] Article by Ella McSweeney in The Examiner, Farming Supplement 23rd June 2011
[v] Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association Press Release 28th May 2011
[vi] Tesco Ireland Website