2 October 2000
FSA conference on Crohn’s milk link

By FWi staff

FOOD safety experts are to hold a conference to consider ways to stop a bacterium found in milk and linked with Crohns disease entering the food chain.

Food Standards Agency commissioned research found that the MAP (mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis) bug can survive pasteurisation.

MAP has been linked by some scientist with the Crohns disease – an inflammatory bowel disorder which affects 35,000 people in Britain.

Independent experts told the FSA there is insufficient evidence connecting milk consumption with Crohns disease to merit any change in dietary advice.

But they were sufficiently concerned that there could be a link to recommend that the agency sets up a group to try to prevent MAP entering the food chain.

FSA chairman Sir John Krebs said: “On the basis that the risk to human health has not been proven, the committee did not recommend any change in the current advice regarding the consumption of milk.”

But Sir John said he noted concerns of the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food that exposure to MAP should be reduced.

“We, therefore, intend to convene a conference to review possible controls at all stages of the food chain.”

The National Dairy Council said it was important to note that he FSA had recommended no changes.

NDC head of communications Jill Eisberg said: “We know beyond doubt that milk is good for you and an important part of the diet.

“We would urge everyone to take note of the FSA advice that there is no need for consumers to change their dietary habits.”

Other research has linked Crohns to drinking water and a vitamin deficiency.