7 November 1997

Green toppers fight ban plans

DAIRY farmers selling unpasteurised (green top) milk are determined to fight MAFFs plans to ban the product.

They have rejected claims by scientists on the advisory committee for the microbiological safety of food (ACMSF), that there is evidence of a link between cases of food poisoning and drinking unpasteurised milk.

Sir Julian Rose, chairman of the Association of Unpasteurised Milk Producers and Consumers, said he was sceptical of MAFFs motives, claiming instead that there was increasing evidence that unpasteurised milk provided resistance against harmful bacteria.

Sir Julian, who produces green top milk from his 35 Guernsey cows on his organic 133 ha (330-acre) farm near Pangbourne, Berks, added: "My initial reaction is one of scepticism and that this is a political move from MAFF. By banning the drinking of cows milk, MAFF would cut costs of having to maintain records, carry out farm visits and issue licences. We will fight this all the way."

At present, there are 300 dairy farmers selling about 4.5m litres of unpasteurised cows milk a year in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Sales of green top milk in Scotland were banned in 1983.

But junior farm minister, Jeff Rooker, said the governments top priority was to protect consumers. "The advice of the ACMSF is that this measure will protect consumers. We have acted on that advice. There is no reason why consumers should be exposed to this risk." Industry has until Jan 19 to make its views on the proposal known to government.

The use of raw milk to make speciality cheeses will not be affected.n