France authorizes changes to raw milk regulations due to coronavirus

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French authorities have relaxed the rules for the sale of raw milk due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The country’s agriculture ministry has temporarily adopted measures to facilitate the marketing by producers of their unpasteurized raw milk for direct sale. The agency also clarified that it is the operator’s responsibility to ensure the safety of any product placed on the market.

The sale of raw milk directly to the consumer can be done by completing an online declaration. Normally, the producer of cow, goat or sheep milk must request authorization from the authorities in order to be able to sell raw milk and then be subject to inspection. At the end of the coronavirus crisis, the producer will have to make a request if he wishes to keep this status.

Travel welcomed
Two dairy groups had sent an assessment of the difficulties encountered by producers to the Ministry of Agriculture and asked for regulatory adaptations to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

The National Federation of Milk Producers (FNPL) and the National Federation of Goat Breeders (FNEC) welcomed the new measures, which will facilitate the sale of products from dairy producers in difficulty due to the closure of their usual markets.

A formal response is not essential, but the return of the online form signed by an inspector helps clarify the operators’ situation. The groups advised producers to request the inspector to sign this signature.

Producers must guarantee good health for animals involved in milk production and that they are free from brucellosis and tuberculosis if they wish to sell on the farm. They should use potable water to clean and disinfect equipment in contact with raw milk.

Products must be cooled after milking and stored between 0 degrees C and 4 degrees C (32 degrees F and 39.2 degrees F) unless the sale is made on the farm within two hours of the end of the milking . It must also meet all the microbiological criteria for Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella and E. coli.

Weekly volume limits have also been suspended. Operators must keep a record of the quantities sold during the emergency period. Normally, a producer has the right to sell to an intermediary within a radius of 80 kilometers or 200 kilometers in remote municipalities, but with volume limitations. At the end of the crisis, a request for approval will have to be made if the producer wishes to keep volumes higher than what the regulations allow in normal times.

Situation elsewhere
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has told dairy producers who are not registered as raw milk producers not to give or sell raw milk directly from their tanks.

The warning comes from the fact that some farmers may be invited by friends and neighbors if they can buy milk from the tanks, with some supermarkets seeing shortages of milk on the shelves, according to the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF ).

Italian politician Mara Bizzotto said milk prices are down sharply from 42 to 43 cents per liter in January, from 22 to 28 cents in March.

“In addition, many producers complain about the non-collection of raw milk in the barns, which means an unacceptable waste of a quality fresh product and, above all, a loss of income for producers,” he said. she declared.

Copa and Cogeca previously warned of “negative sentiment” in the dairy market, which weighs on prices at a time that represents the peak season.

Thierry Roquefeuil, president of the Copa and Cogeca working group on milk and dairy products, said that farmers and their cooperatives cannot bear the consequences of another crisis.

“The European Commission and the Member States have a responsibility to act now. Copa and Cogeca call for swift action to initiate the necessary measures and the activation of private storage for all dairy products. Guaranteeing the private storage of skimmed milk powder, all types of cheese, butter, including the frozen storage of buffalo milk and / or buffalo curd, would have a beneficial impact on food security throughout the year “, did he declare.

“It is also important to assess the impact that the closure of schools has had on the delivery of milk and milk products to children in schools and to avoid unnecessary restrictions arising from competition law in this situation of strength major. “

The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) helped develop guidance on what dairy farmers whose milk is not collected during the COVID-19 pandemic should do when spreading over the farm where it was produced is required.

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