For raw milk we mean a milk which has not undergone any heat treatment, not even of slight intensity, and which is distributed in bulk and marketed as soon as it is milked.

In Italy, following the entry into force of the so-called "Hygiene Package", the direct sale of raw milk is allowed. The Regulation, in fact, provides that from 1 January 2006 all member states have the same criteria regarding hygiene. food production and health checks. (Hygiene package, i.e. Reg. 852 - 853 - 854/2004).

The marketing of raw milk has sparked a series of sometimes very heated debates. On the one hand, the risks were underlined, limited but still present; on the other, the validity of the concepts "raw equal to natural" and "natural equal to good".

The Community Regulation provides for a series of official controls on the production of raw milk which concern in particular:

  • milk production companies
  • raw milk at the time of collection
  • methods of distribution and sale of raw milk directly to the final consumer

Therefore, as is the case with the milk supply chain intended for pasteurization, it is a production subject to controls that include:

  • stable management (checks on infectious diseases communicable with milk, checks on milking practices, etc.)
  • carrying out laboratory tests on the milk and faeces of animals
  • checks on product quality through samples made directly by distributors

Obviously, the absence of microorganisms capable of causing diseases (pathogens) must be guaranteed.

Raw milk, in order to be considered suitable for direct sale to the final consumer, must not have undergone in any way operations of subtraction or addition of any of its natural components and any type of treatment, other than filtration and refrigeration at 4 ° C.

In Italy, the habit of consuming raw milk directly has spread, also thanks to the growing availability in the area of ​​self-service machines for dispensing milk on tap.

However, it is necessary to have suitable precautions such as:

  • choice of the type of container to be used (glass better than plastic)
  • maintaining the cold chain during transport and home storage
  • consumption of milk after boiling it

On the one hand, in fact, raw milk contains "good" bacteria, such as i lactobacilli which have a beneficial effect on the digestive system of man, and a greater quantity of enzymes and some vitamins; on the other hand, however, it presents potential dangers deriving both from the state of health of the producing cows, and from possible contamination related to the modalities with which the cows are milked and the milk is subsequently stored and transported.

For this reason, starting from 2008, with an Ordinance of the Ministry of Health and provided for by Law Decree no. 158 of 13/09/2012, also following the occurrence of episodes of human infection by the bacterium Escherichia coli O157, and other types of Verocytotoxin producing Escherichia coli (VTEC), the consumption of raw milk was regulated, to protect the consumer from the danger of becoming infected with germs that cause diseases, introducing the "obligation to display the following clearly visible indication on the dispensing machines:"Product to be consumed only after boiling ".

It should be noted that milk as it is produced by the mammary gland does not normally contain germs capable of causing infections. Contamination of milk with microorganisms of this type can occur at the time of milking, collection, processing, storage and distribution of the milk. In particular, contact with contaminated surfaces such as, for example, the skin of the udder of cows, the hands of operators and the surfaces of milking systems and storage tanks (post milking contamination) can facilitate the passage of germs to milk. .

The rapid refrigeration of freshly milked milk at temperatures no higher than + 4 ° C can only prevent and slow down the proliferation of germs that may be present in contaminated milk but not eliminate them. This is possible, in fact, only through thermal treatments such as pasteurization (quickly bringing the substances to be treated to temperatures between about 60 ° C and 80 ° C, for times of varying duration between about 30 minutes and 15 seconds) and sterilization.



Regulation (EC) n. 852/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the hygiene of food products

Regulation (EC) n. 853/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council which establishes specific hygiene rules for food of animal origin

Correction of Regulation (EC) no. 854/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council which establishes specific rules for the organization of official controls on products of animal origin intended for human consumption

Law Decree n.158 of 09/13/2012. Urgent provisions to promote the development of the country through a higher level of health protection. (12G0180) (GU General Series n.214 of 13-09-2012)

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