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Thursday, 28 March, 2002, 16:53 GMT
Farmer protests over raw milk ban
Cow
Farmers fear a supermarket price war
A farmer has been warned to stop selling raw milk to customers from his shop, following a ruling by a food watchdog.

Deeside farmer Steve Oultram said he was amazed at the decision by the Food Standards Advisory Committee for Wales to halt raw milk sales in Wales.

Mr Oultram, 59, sells the raw milk in glass bottles, clearly labelled, and customers are told what they are buying.

milk bottles
Mr Oultram sells his milk direct to customers
The Ewloe farmer has argued the committee's ruling is yet another example of "red tape" and does nothing to promote diversity on Welsh farms.

A study in 1998 by scientists at the Public Health Laboratory Service, based in London, found that more than one in five bottles of green top milk were contaminated with bacteria.

But campaigners say raw milk has been consumed for over 1,000 years without ill effect.

The Queen Mother is reportedly a fan of raw milk.

Mr Oultram sells an average of 300 pints of milk through the shop each week, at 30p a pint - 20p more than farmgate prices.

Queen Mother
Queen Mother: Said to be a fan of raw milk
The family has been selling milk privately for nearly 40 years, using a retail licence that once belonged to Mr Oultram's father.

"This ban is not proposed for England and it is not an European Community regulation," said Mr Oultram, who runs Newbridge Farm with his wife and two children.

"We depend on this income, as prospects for the milk industry in general are gloomy."

Two years ago, the UK government dropped moves to ban raw milk sales, following extensive consultations with consumers and the general public.


Selling raw milk direct is the way that we have been able to diversify our business

Steve Ou
Mr Oultram said he was surprised the issue was back on the agenda and he hit back by urging health chiefs to focus their attention on real issues of concern, such as smoking and alcohol.

"The public must have freedom to choose," he said.

"The government is continually encouraging us to diversify our farm businesses," he said.

"I have a regular stream of customers who buy six to eight pints at a time," said Mr Oultram. It's very popular."

'Ridiculous'

Mr Oultram has received support from Eifion Huws, a dairy farmer and the Anglesey chairman of the Farmers' Union of Wales.

"If green top milk is banned in Wales we will be left with the ridiculous situation of people crossing over the border to England to buy their supplies," he said.

"This matter has been thoroughly investigated only a few years ago.

"It is made perfectly clear to the public that green top milk is raw, untreated milk.

"It would be wrong if the freedom to choose to drink raw milk is taken away from them," said Mr Huws.

See also:

24 Feb 98 | UK
Ban looming for raw milk
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