Unregistered raw milk suppliers have been ordered to stop selling their products after a year-long investigation by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).
MPI compliance staff executed search warrants at non-compliant raw drinking milk suppliers in Auckland, Hawke's Bay, Manawatu, Horowhenua, Nelson and Southland on Tuesday.
MPI's manager of food compliance Melinda Sando said the purpose of the co-ordinated site visits was to gather evidence of the offending and to allow further investigation of non-compliant sales.
"We believe that the suppliers we visited are operating outside of the regulatory framework. By not adhering to the rules for selling raw drinking milk, they are putting consumer health at risk," she said.
She said there had been multiple instances of people getting sick after drinking raw milk from some of the suppliers.
"Raw unpasteurised milk is a risky product as it hasn't been heat treated (pasteurised) to remove illness causing bacteria including E. coli, listeria and campylobacter."
These types of bacteria most commonly cause severe diarrhoea and vomiting, but occasionally had been linked with more serious complications that include miscarriage, paralysis, meningitis and serious kidney problems in children.
Raw milk could also be a source of tuberculosis (Tb).
Sando said when people chose to drink raw unpasteurised milk, they should have confidence that the milk they were consuming was produced within the regulatory framework.
"Purchasing from MPI registered suppliers who are being audited regularly to ensure they are managing risks and testing regularly helps consumers reduce the risks if they choose to drink this product."
Suppliers in question had been using various tactics in an attempt to continue selling their product including selling it as bath milk or pet milk.
"These tactics are not legal in our view and are a way of getting around the regulations and avoiding the costs associated with being compliant including food safety testing costs, registration costs and audit costs.
"We make no apologies for holding to account, people who are breaching the regulations. The rules exist for a reason - to protect human health."
Raw milk suppliers had been able to take part in a consultation process around the introduction of new raw drinking milk regulations which came into effect on March 1 2016.
"They knew what the rules were designed to do and why they were brought into effect.
"The suppliers need to stop selling unregulated product immediately. They'll be able to resume selling once they have met all requirements to make them compliant.
"We hope they put human health first. It's the responsible thing to do."