According to the standards regulator, if approved, the proposal would see requirements for raw milk products introduced into the Food Standards Code.
“Under the current Food Standards Code only certain types of raw milk products are permitted and permissions for other types of products can be granted by application,” Steve McCutcheon, CEO at FSANZ, said.
The use of raw milk in products was first assessed in August 2011 under a proposal, whereby FSANZ looked at what production and processing measures and product characteristics were needed to provide a high level of safety for consumers.
It resulted in recommendations for the use of raw milk in nonpasteurised, hard to very hard cooked curd cheeses, which then resulted in changes to the dairy standards in the Food Standards Code.
Hard cheeses belong to Category 1 products under the code, whose low moisture content and long maturation make them as safe as pasteurised cheeses, according to FSANZ.
However, the assessment at that time (2011) did not approve the use of raw milk for Category 2 and Category 3 products in Australia. FSANZ is now reviewing if the use of raw milk products in Category 2 products could also be allowed.
Other measures still required
Category 2 includes cheese products that may allow the survival, but not growth, of pathogens and could be made to adhere to food safety standards by a combination of control measures and verification activities, according to FSANZ.
“FSANZ is now assessing requirements that would permit additional raw milk products, as long as certain through-chain measures are in place to ensure safety,” said McCutcheon.
“Businesses would have to demonstrate to enforcement agencies that these measures are effectively implemented,” he added.
FSANZ said that it is inviting submissions from government agencies, public health professionals, industry and the community. The last date for submissions is January 10, 2014, according to the regulator.