Dairies must clean up to fight Crohns

7 December 2001

Dairies ‘must clean up’ to fight Crohn’s

By Adrienne Francis

MILK producers must improve hygiene to reduce the risk of infection, according to a new draft strategy by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

Dairy companies will have to treat milk in the pasteurisation process at a temperature of 72°C for 25 seconds, instead of 15 seconds under the proposals.

The strategy is aimed at killing the organism mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP), thought to cause Crohns disease.

FSA believes this precautionary action should start immediately in case a link between the organism and the disease is proved.

Health officials are concerned that 5000 cases of the disease develop each year, predominantly in children and young people.

The agencys strategy follows a survey of pasteurised milk from eight dairies that showed MAP could affect 2.1% of British milk.

The bacteria currently affects 90,000 people in Britain, causing chronic diarrhoea, stomach pain, vomiting and weight loss.

The agency also calls for a review of the way teats and milking equipment are cleaned, and new guidelines for animal husbandry.

The Times comments that there is still no firm proof of a link between milk and Crohns disease.

Some scientists believe it could be triggered from the milk of cattle suffering from Johnes disease, it writes.

Development of a cattle vaccine to make them immune to Johnes disease has also been supported by the agency.

National Farmers Union dairy advisor Phil Hudson was sceptical about the need for more hygiene rules, reports the paper.

He said that most farmers already belong to milk production assurance schemes and followed high standards, it writes.

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