Canadian laws prohibiting the sale and distribution of farm-fresh, unprocessed milk are based the assumption that this product invariably contains pathogens which cause disease outbreaks. However, this assumption could be based on obsolete information. The California-based Raw Milk Institute (est. 2011) has developed an on-farm food safety (OFFS) program called the “Risk Analysis and Management Planning” (RAMP) system, which train farmers in production methods that prevent contamination and preserve quality. BCHA provides this training to farmers in British Columbia.
In a May 2015 meeting, the BC Government stated that as a condition for legalization, it needs to see evidence that legalization won’t result in increased rates of food-borne disease outbreaks. This small pilot project examines the effectiveness of RAWMI training, in preparation for a formal research project to be undertaken by a research university. Participating microdairy herdshare farms in B.C., with both trained and untrained agisters, have volunteered to send in milk samples for bacterial testing. Lab test results are published as they arrive, and are thus available to the public, researchers, and governments. We are also researching:
- What are the best methods for preventing contamination? How do different milking procedures (e.g. udder preparation, milk cooling, equipment cleaning) and on-farm food safety systems such as RAWMI training affect milk quality?
- How can legalization be done such that it will be affordable for herdshares of all sizes? Onerous laws mandating expensive requirements which farms can’t afford will drive them out of business or underground.
We invite all herdshares farms in B.C. to participate in this project. Mentoring from RAWMI-trained agisters is available to all participants. Test results are posted below with each farm given a 3-digit code in order to provide confidentiality.
Donate to help fund this project (details coming soon)
Current active participants: 5 farms (4 cowshares, 1 goatshare)
Milk samples tested so far: 122
Milk samples testing positive for pathogens: 0