Food Standards Scotland works with the farming industry and primary producers to ensure food is safe and authentic from the beginning of the food chain.
It is an offence to place raw milk or cream on the market for direct consumption in Scotland - this includes distribution. The ban includes sheep, goats, buffalo and any other species farmed for its milk. Raw drinking milk and cream has historically been recognised as a high risk to public health as it was linked to a high number of food poisoning outbreaks, mainly Salmonella, Campylobacter and E.Coli O157 infection, and 12 potentially associated deaths in Scotland.
To mitigate this risk mandatory pasteurisation of raw cows’ drinking milk was introduced in Scotland in 1983, and extended to drinking milk from all farmed animals in 2006. The Scottish policy of mandatory pasteurisation is consistent with the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food advice, who recommend pasteurisation as the key critical control point in the prevention of milk borne disease. It is also in line with the recommendations of the E.coli Task Force Report from 2001, commissioned after 21 people died in a major food poisoning outbreak in Wishaw in 1996, which highlighted the raw milk ban in Scotland as a positive step in protecting consumers from the risks of E.coli O157. Mandatory pasteurisation also protects the wider community, as milk borne pathogens such as E.coli O157 are known to be transmitted through person to person contact.
The most recent scientific review, published in January 2015, was conducted by experts from the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) Panel on Biological Hazards. This scientific opinion on public health risks associated with raw milk in the EU concludes that raw milk can be a source of harmful bacteria – mainly Campylobacter, Salmonella and Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) - including E. coli O157 - and Listeria monocytogenes. The EFSA opinion identifies further hazards but these are not considered to be a significant risk in Scotland or the UK.
Given the historical evidence and weight of expert scientific opinion in favour of mandatory pasteurisation, there are currently no plans to lift the ban on direct sales of raw drinking milk in Scotland.
Guidance on cheese production for the dairy industry and local authorities.
What food operators need to know about testing milk for antibiotic residues.
Information on the areas subject to inspection and the standards expected of Scotland’s egg producers.