Health fears over comeback of ‘dirty milk’

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FSA pledges crackdown as English dairies deliver illegal unpasteurised pintas.

Raw milk, outlawed in Scotland 30 years ago after a Sunday Post campaign, is being sold illegally across the country.

The unpasteurised white stuff has seen a boom in popularity in recent years.

Many chefs and celebrities, including Prince Charles’s stepson Tom Parker Bowles and actor Martin Sheen, claim it tastes better than normal milk.

But it remains banned in Scotland over fears about its links to tuberculosis, salmonella, E coli and brucellosis.

However, we can reveal a thriving trade in raw milk is running across the border with English-based dairies openly delivering it to Scottish customers.

Now bosses at the independent Food Standards Agency are vowing to take action.

Scientists last night warned consumers buying raw milk were putting their health at risk.

Microbiologist Prof Hugh Pennington said: “Buying raw milk is silly and arguments in favour of it are rubbish.

“There are risks of salmonella, E coli 0157 and tuberculosis from drinking unpasteurised milk. These serious bugs are the reasons why milk was pasteurised, along with making its shelf life longer.

“There were cases in the ’90s where people drank milk they thought was pasteurised, but due to faulty machines it wasn’t a child died as a result.

“Drinking raw milk is not a risk I’d recommend taking.”

Raw milk hasn’t been pasteurised the process that involves heat-treating it to kill harmful bacteria.

Sales were banned in Scotland in 1983 after a spate of deaths.

Despite the legislation, dairies we contacted south of the border were happy to dispatch the product to Scotland.

Suffolk-based Foulgers Dairy said they had customers in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and were sending deliveries north of the border weekly.

Lancashire’s Emma’s Organic Dairy and Hertfordshire-based Beaconhill Farm can also deliver to Scotland.

Leading nutritionist Dr Catherine Hankey said: “I’m not aware of any reason why raw milk which is potentially harmful to health for the elderly, very young and those with a poor level of immunity could be justified.

“Maybe a ‘hippy-like’ wish to eat food that is unprocessed and direct from source is the reason behind the growth in sales.”

Raw milk sales have been boosted by critically acclaimed documentary The Moo Man.

The film, directed by Scot Andy Heathcote and released in July, chronicles the struggles of Sussex dairy farmer Stephen Hook and his championing of raw milk.

Mr Hook said: “Raw milk is a growing market and the Scottish market is getting bigger.

“It’s ridiculous that Scottish farmers cannot sell it.

“If you ask the FSA how many cases of food poisoning there are a year they will quote something like one million.

“However, ask them how many cases have been down to unpasteurised milk and they cannot pinpoint one directly.”

The FSA in Scotland said that all sales of raw milk were illegal in Scotland, even through the internet.

A spokeswoman for the body added: “We welcome the Sunday Post’s findings on this and will pass it on to our enforcement team to investigate.”

In the US 200 people get sick every year from drinking raw milk or eating unpasteurised cheese.

In 1999, a major outbreak of food poisoning struck 25 people in Cumbria after they drank raw milk from a local dairy.

The casualty list included three young children, who became seriously ill with kidney problems.