A family-owned raw milk dairy with a new name in New Zealand has installed an Italian made dispenser at its farm gate, hoping people passing by on the road will purchase the output of its 520-cow herd.

The dairy farm is 112 years old, located at Turua on the Hauraki Plains, and owned by Neil and Glenda Gray. Turua is a small village community on the banks of the Waihou River in the Hauraki Plains, southeast of Auckland on the North Island of New Zealand.

While Turua is a bit off the beaten path, the new Buttercup Dairies is counting on its new roadside raw milk dispenser to attract customers. From the unit, customers can purchase a $4 glass bottle of raw milk.

Buttercup Dairies plans to keep the milk fresh on a daily basis, and the recommended shelf life is four days. Glenda Gray says the raw milk dairy is registered with the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) and subject to strict guidelines.

Under MPI regulation, Buttercup Dairies is required to do regular testing to ensure the quality and safety of its milk production.

“We send samples of milk away weekly to two separate testing facilities, aiming to keep harmful bacteria to a minimum while retaining the good bacteria and enzymes,” she told local media.

The Grays began studying the possibility of selling raw milk from a roadside dispenser in December 2016. Once they were committed to the idea, they installed a giant billboard on the site advertising “self-service raw milk sales coming soon.”

Australia and New Zealand share a lot when it comes to food safety, but they’ve long differed on raw milk sales. Raw milk for human consumption is not a legal option in Australia, while New Zealand permits farm sales of raw milk.

More recently, Kiwis’ dairies have embraced vending machines located at the farm gate, some open 24 hours a day. Buttercup Dairies plans to be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

All raw milk sales in New Zealand must come with a warning about the risks of drinking the beverage, which is not pasteurized. The danger is a significant concern for the elderly, young children, and anyone with a compromised immune system.

Three years ago, Village Milk of Timaru was the source of an outbreak of infections from the bacteria Campylobacter. Village Milk, owned by Stu and Andrea Weir, was forced to close temporarily while several cases of Campylobacter infection were investigated.

Village Milk helped Buttercup Dairies open its roadside vending service. The introduction of contaminated cows to the herd caused the 2014 outbreak at Timaru.

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