pitcherofmilk_406x250The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) is continuing to recommend a ban on raw milk sales in that country after the agency’s sampling program found harmful bacterial contamination. Between June 2012 and June 2013, FSAI tested 600 samples of unpasteurized, or raw, milk and in-line raw milk filters, which are filters in the pipeline from the animal to the bulk tank that filter out debris such as feces, soil, or feed. Samples from 211 farms across Ireland were tested for pathogens and indicator organisms, including Salmonella, verocytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli (VTEC), Listeria monocytogenes, Campylobacter, and coagulase-positive staphylococci. According to the report released Tuesday, March 10, Listeria and Campylobacter were the most commonly isolated pathogens. For raw milk, FSAI found 7 percent of samples tested positive for Listeria and 3 percent were positive for Campylobacter. Approximately 22 percent and 20 percent of raw milk filter samples were positive for Campylobacter and Listeria, respectively. E. coli O26 (VTEC) was detected in 6 percent of raw milk filter samples. Salmonella was found in only 1 percent of filters and 0.5 percent of raw milk samples. Multiple pathogens were detected in about 8 percent of raw milk filters tested. “Based on the findings of this survey, the FSAI continues to recommend that the sale of raw milk for direct human consumption should be prohibited in Ireland and the farm families who drink milk produced on their own farm should pasteurise it first using a home pasteuriser or boil it before use,” the report stated. FSAI’s Scientific Committee has previously recommended a ban on raw milk sales in 2008 and 2010. “While the market for raw milk is small, it remains a serious concern given the well-documented public health risks posed by the presence of pathogens in raw milk,” said Dr. Wayne Anderson, FSAI’s director of Food Science and Standards. “We are therefore recommending that raw milk should be avoided by consumers, but for those who still wish to drink it, they should, at a minimum, boil the milk before drinking it to kill any potentially harmful bacteria.” Until a ban is put in place, FSAI says the words “raw milk” should be required on labels, as well as a warning that, “This milk has not been heat treated and may therefore contain organisms that are harmful to health. It is recommended to boil before consumption.” In January, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published a Scientific Opinion stating that the risks associated with drinking raw milk need to be better communicated to consumers.