[Foodplanning] News: UK Bans Milk,
Milk Products Contaminated with Antibiotics
vasishth at usc.edu
Sat Oct 21 21:27:03 PDT 2006
October 21, 2006
Milk with antibiotics is banned in safety U-turn
The discovery of diary products contaminated with antibiotics has led to a review of hygiene standards
By Valerie Elliott
FOOD standards chiefs have ordered the reform of hygiene practices in the British dairy industry and banned the use of milk contaminated with antibiotics in food or drink.
Yesterday's U-turn by the Food Standards Agency follows anger in Europe that suspect milk containing antibiotic residues or tainted with dye and detergent was being used to make curd cheese at Bowland Dairy Products, a company in Nelson, Lancashire. When the facts were disclosed in Brussels two weeks ago, the Food Standards Agency defended the hygiene practices being scrutinised at the dairy, taking the line that it was perfectly safe to use milk with antibiotics for food production as long as the chemical traces were within safety limits.
Consumers in Britain were alarmed to learn that suspect milk was being cleaned up and used for the production of curd cheese, a main ingredient in hard and soft processed cheese.
Last week the European Commission began legal action, accusing the Government of allowing unfit and unsafe food to enter the food chain. Brussels is still planning an urgent health safety investigation into Britain's entire milk and cheese production. This will involve random checks at British farms and dairy operations.
The Food Standards Agency had indicated that it wished to fight the case - but Whitehall decided against.
Yesterday the agency sent environmental health and trading standards officers and British dairies new instructions about the testing of milk. If any milk is found with traces of antibiotics it must be rejected and dumped in a landfill site or retested to check whether the amount of chemical residue is safe for human consumption.
In future any milk washed down from processing equipment must be free of detergent if it is sent for use in food production to other plants.
The whole testing regime in Europe, however, is to be discussed by scientific experts. It is hoped that a rapid test can be developed to gauge the levels of antibiotics in products.
Accepting the new rules yesterday, Dairy UK said: "We are relieved that at last we have the clarification as to what is now expected and the tests that need to be applied."
Brussels had ordered the closure of Bowland Dairy Products after inspectors found that the processor was collecting out-of-date milk from retailers and manufacturers for use in cheese. It was also found that mouldy and contaminated cheese were being used to vacuum-pack products sent to the Continent. Twenty-six jobs were lost at Bowland, and it is bringing a legal action against the Commission over the closure.
John Wright, a director of the company, said: "It is sad that the Government has not backed the agency. This was a political decision not backed by the science or the law."
Copyright 2006 Times Newspapers Ltd.
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