The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) says it is concerned about a growing trend towards the consumption of raw, unpasteurised milk and raw milk-based dairy products.

FVE – an umbrella organisation of 44 veterinary organisations from 38 European countries, representing a total of about 200,000 veterinarians – says farms have been offering raw milk from cows, goats, sheep or other animals, without a clear communication of the risks associated with it.

Raw milk and raw milk-based products may contain many pathogens that can make people seriously sick, including:

  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Campylobacter jejuni
  • Salmonella species
  • Escherichia coli
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis and bovis
  • Brucella species
  • Coxiella burnetii
  • Yersinia enterocolitica.

These bacteria may cause vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fever, headache and body ache, while some people – especially vulnerable groups such as children and older people – can develop acute, life-threatening illness.

In recent months, several European countries have reported outbreaks of these diseases, which were directly related to the drinking of unpasteurised raw milk. These cases should not have occurred as they could have been prevented.

Pasteurisation is a scientific and evidence-based process that heats milk to a high temperature applied for a short period of time. The temperatures and times are set up to destroy these bacteria and other microorganisms that may cause sickness.

Pasteurisation does not significantly change the taste and nutritional value of milk and dairy products, and gives them a longer shelf life.

A FVE spokesman said: “In the context of the principle ‘prevention is better than cure’ we are of the opinion many forms of processing are needed to protect consumers’ health and pasteurisation is one of them.”

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