New regulations a raw deal for milk lovers?

New regulations a raw deal for milk lovers?

There are all sorts of guidelines for buying and selling raw milk, and they're about to get tougher.

Fans of raw milk say it's tastier and healthier than pasturised milk. Others say raw milk presents risks, and could be carrying disease.

Dairy farmer Mary Simpson runs a small-scale milk operation. She has nine Jersey cows. She says the milk produced by the Jerseys is creamy and sweet.

She sells the milk raw, straight from the farm gate. "We didn't think of pasturising. We thought 'people like natural', and thats all it is. From the cows to the people."

Pasturising heats milk enough to kill bugs, but lovers of raw milk say the process also kills off the taste and many health benefits.

As it is, raw milk can be difficult to come across, especially if you live in a city. Some retailers sell raw milk, but customers have to register and sign a form saying they 're aware of what they're purchasing.

New regulations will cut those retailers out of the process, meaning fans of raw milk will soon have to go directly to farms.

Gemma Heffernan from Ripe Deli says the current regulations are fine. "It's up to the customer. They know where they're getting it from. They would have done their own research... It's their choice."

But Healthy Food Guide's Niki Bezzant says there are risks associated with raw milk, and health benefits are unproven. "If milk's not pasturised, there's the potential for it to still have bugs in it." Those bugs can cause food-borne illnesses, such as campylobacter and Listeria. Ms Bezzant says "It's potentially quite serious."

Ms Bezzant warns against raw milk consumption for the very young, old, pregnant or people with an illness or immunity disorder.

But those who buy raw milk say they know the risks, they just don't want the government making that decision for them.

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