BOI Farming Ltd., trading as Bella Vacca Jerseys, is recalling raw, unpasteurized milk in New Zealand because of contamination with Campylobacter bacteria.

Bella Vacca brand unpasteurized, raw drinking milk is sold in 750-ml glass bottles.

Batch numbers 270818, 280818, 310818, 010918 and 030918 with use by dates Aug. 27, 28 and 31, and Sept. 1 and 3 are included in the recall. The product is delivered directly to customers or sold from the farm at 568 Pokapū Road, RD1 Kawakawa, Northland. It is not exported.

Consumers who have unused portions of Bella Vacca brand raw milk are urged to check the batch and date mark on stickers on the lids of bottles. Health officials say people should not to consume affected product. They should return the products for a full refund.

There have been no reports of illness but those who have consumed the product and have developed symptoms of infection from Campylobacter bacteria should seek medical advice.

Bella Vacca Jerseys representatives said until the next five tests are clear it is unable to sell raw milk.

“This does not affect our pasteurized milk which is still available for purchase. All people who had deliveries of the failed batch and all subsequent batches are currently being notified by email or phone,” said the company in a post on its Facebook page.

Raw unpasteurized milk from any animal may be contaminated with bacteria including shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), Listeria and Campylobacter.

Last month, Longhill Farms recalled raw, unpasteurized milk in New Zealand because it was contaminated with Campylobacter bacteria. No illnesses were reported.

The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) brought in legislation in 2016 covering the sale of raw milk in New Zealand.

Producers must be registered with MPI, can only sell raw milk at the farm gate or by home delivery to the consumer. Raw milk must be refrigerated at all times before and during delivery and must be labelled with a “Use By ” date of no more than four days from when it was produced.

The milking plant and premises have to be inspected and approved by a recognized agency every six months and milk must be tested every 10 days for some tests and every 15 days by an accredited laboratory.

The government is scheduled review the raw milk policy in November this year, two years after full implementation, to ensure it is working effectively.

The MPI said raw milk is risky for anybody, but especially for young children, babies, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems. The agency recommends the safest option is to consume only pasteurized milk, or to heat raw milk to 70 degrees Celsius and hold it at that temperature for one minute.

Other recommendations for those who choose to consume or serve raw milk include:

  • Keep chilled while transporting it home from the farm;
  • Keep in the coldest part of the fridge, usually the lower levels are 4 degrees Celsius or cooler;
  • Throw out if it’s been unrefrigerated for two or more hours;
  • When you want to drink raw milk, heat it until just boiling or to 70 degrees Celsius for one minute before drinking;
  • Drink by the use-by date;
  • If you’re serving raw milk to friends or visitors let them know the risks; and
  • Buy raw milk only from a registered supplier.

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