By Thomas Oriti
The New South Wales Food Authority has defended its decision to approve the sale of an unpasteurised milk product, saying the company involved was subject to a two year, rigorous approval process.
The Sydney company is now allowed to sell milk which has been treated hygienically with high pressure rather than high temperatures.
It is being marketed as “cold pressed raw milk” and leading experts have expressed concern about a lack of research proving the cold pressure process was as effective as traditional pasteurisation.
But CEO of the New South Wales Food Authority Dr Lisa Szabo said the product had been approved only after two years of rigorous consultation.
“We asked them ‘well what are the hazards that they’re trying to control in the milk’, and this company had a really strong and comprehensive list of the microbiological hazards that they wanted to control,” Dr Szabo said.
Dr Szabo worked as a research scientist with the CSIRO and said “for five years of my time there I spent doing research on high pressure, and in particular its effect on micro-organisms.
“So I have a great deal of confidence that this particular processing technology can inactivate micro-organisms.”
High pressure processing has been used for other products for a long time and Dr Nidhi Bansal from the University of Queensland’s School of Agriculture and Food Sciences said it has been quite successful.
“Obviously it hasn’t been commercialised for milk yet. So there could be some concern about it, but as long as the company can prove that it is microbiologically safe then I don’t see an issue with that,” Dr Bansal said.
Why raw milk?
Although dairy producers can drink their own untreated cow’s milk, it cannot be sold, and in 2014 raw milk was connected to the death of a child in Victoria.
Saxon Joye is the owner of the company approved to sell unpasteurised milk and said his product was not quite “raw milk,” it had just not gone through the traditional pasteurisation process, where milk is exposed to high temperatures.
“We take our raw milk, and we put it under our cold pressure. If there’s any harmful pathogens or bacteria, we remove it during that process,” he said.
Mr Joye said it is a gentler process that retains the flavour, colour, and nutritional benefits of raw milk, which he said can be lost during the pasteurisation process.
“We just wanted to move towards something a lot less processed, and a lot closer to raw milk, but at the same time give it the safety that our technology brings to the table,” Mr Joye said.
Associate Professor Said Ajlouni is a senior lecturer in food science at the University of Melbourne.
He said he is not concerned about this alternative way of treating milk. But he is questioning whether it makes a difference to the final product at all.
“In terms of nutritional value, is it better than pasteurised milk or not? It is not well established,” Dr Ajlouni said.
“And it would be not accurate to tell the consumers that this type of milk is more nutritious than heat pasteurised milk.”
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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