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There is a legislative requirement in most developed countries for food companies to have validated-HACCP plans for all products. The current E.coli 01507:H7 outbreak in Scotland has been linked to raw milk cheese and the death of one child has been reported. Note there are few examples of well validated HACCPs even from large companies!

There are a number of published risk assessements for raw milk cheeses. One of the most comprehensive, "Microbiological Risk Assessment of Raw Milk Cheese", has been produced by Food Standards Australia /New Zealand using quantitative models developed by the University of Tasmania. The assesment can be downloaded from https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/proposals/documents/P1007%20PPPS%20for%20raw%20milk%201AR%20SD3%20Cheese%20Risk%20Assessment.pdf .

The document produced by Food Standards Australia /New Zealand indicates that the cheese making process can only give a low risk of food poisoning by E. coli  0157:H7 and other pathogens for extra hard raw milk cheeses and designated Swiss-type raw milk cheeses. For other raw milk cheeses e.g. Cheddar and soft cheeses significant risk of pathogen growth and food poisoning exists.

There is significant demand for raw milk cheeses.

There are some options apart from heat treatment that might reduce the concentration of E. coli in milk e.g. some lactic acid bacteria can inhibit the growth of E.coli 01507:H7, lactic cultures that produce H2O2 can activate the lactoperoxidase system and kill or inhibit the growth of many pathogens. On the animal husbandry side, slurry treatment, feeding regime and use of antibiotics may also have an effect.

Can you produce a HACCP plan, that can be validated, that will enable raw milk cheeses like Feta, Camembert and Cheddar to be produced with low risk of causing food poisioning if consumed by "average" consumers?

 

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