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Selling Raw Milk

Please be aware that all information provided is in summary format and should not be construed as a substitute for requesting information from the relevant governing authorities.

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Retail / Food-service

Selling raw milk is now legal in Ireland and for sellers/retailers, the same laws governing the same of any foodstuffs now apply. We advise that you ensure the milk is from a reputable local farm and that you ensure it is labelled, stored and segregated appropriately to ensure that consumers have all the relevant information at point of purchase. New regulations set to come in to force in 2018 will include a mandatory advice label which will need to appear on the bottle or on a sign where the milk is not in pre-packaged bottle or container.

Farmers

Farmers intending to sell any quantity of raw milk in excess of 30 litres per week must register with the Department of Agriculture.
It is important to note that to minimise any potential risks, extra safety procedures should be applied at farm level as well as throughout milking, bottling and storage systems. Also that by selling milk direct to consumers or other food businesses, there is automatically a significant extra burden of regulatory responsibility - as is the case for all food business operators...

Information for Farmers Selling Raw Milk

Regulations

Currently the regulations in place for the sale of raw milk are governed by the same regulations as were already laid out in the general EU Food & Feed Hygiene Regulations of 2004, which have applied to all dairy farmers selling milk since their introduction to law in Ireland in 2006. The main extra requirements for raw milk production within these regulations are twice yearly herd tests for TB and stricter criteria for Somatic Cell Count and Total Bacteria Count.
The label must also state clearly that it is Raw Milk.

Registration Process

You can download a registration form from
DAFM Website Milk Hygiene Section
("Registration Form for the Supply of Raw Milk..." , listed under "Trader Notices")

You can also request a form by phoning the Milk Hygiene division on 057 8694358

Here is a copy of the same form as of August 2016, but please contact DAFM in case of any updates.
RegistrationApplicationFormSuppliersRaw Milk090816 

These specifics have been in place for any farmer selling raw milk (for use in cheese production, for example) for some time, and will now also apply to those selling liquid raw milk for direct human consumption.
As of late 2017, additional guidelines for the sale of raw milk are being finalised. These will include stricter controls across all aspects of production, implementation of a robust food safety plan and procedures including HACCP as well as minimum testing regime for pathogens. An extra advisory label will also be mandatory.

Further Documentation

Regulation 852/2004 The Hygiene of Foodstuffs
This is a more general set of regulations which applies to all food business operators selling food stuffs

Regulation 853/2004 Laying down specific hygiene rules for food of animal origin
This is the more specific regulation applying to those selling foodstuffs of animal origin, such as milk, and is the document which lays out the specific criteria for raw milk.

We also have available an edited document showing just the parts of  the regulation pertaining to raw milk, but please note that this is not a legal document and is intended to be a helpful summary. You can view this summary here: RMI - Summary & Excerpts EU Hygiene Regs

Brief Background on the Legality of Selling Raw Milk for Direct Human Consumption

Owing to a exemption within the EU Hygiene regulations of 2004, it has been legal for Irish farmers to sell small quantities of raw milk to local retailers or from the farm gate since 2006 (this is when these regulations came into force in the Irish Statute Book). This exemption for small quantities, sold locally meant that farmers did not need to operate under the EU regulations as laid out.

In 2011, the government indicated that they wished to correct this situation and introduce a ban. However, following several years of negotiation by members of Raw Milk Ireland, in 2014, they indicated that they would instead consider introducing regulations.

With the introduction of a new legal amendment in 2015 (view Statutory Instrument here) The Department of Agriculture with the collaboration of Raw Milk Ireland, sought to define the terms small and local, which allowed for the original exemption.
The statutory instrument defines small quantities as 30 litres per week and local as within a radius of 20km from the farm.

To clarify this means that the exempt farmers (those producing under 30 litres per week) do not need to operate under the criteria in the EU Regulations. But it then brings farmers producing over 30 litres into the sphere of having to operate under the regulations.
Thus it is perfectly legal to sell raw milk, Farmers do need to register with the Department of Agriculture if they wish to do so.

Further industry led guidelines with more specific and stringent criteria for the sale of raw milk for direct human consumption have been discussed, we expect they will come in to force by 2018.

Please contact us for any further information, and if you wish to be listed in the "where to buy" section of the website.

If you are interested in becoming a part of Raw Milk Ireland, which involves receiving regulatory updates and input in to same, as well as ongoing help and advice with a variety of aspects of your business, then you can contact us for further information. As a group, we intend to put in place a charter for membership which will include specific standards and criteria and above all else a commitment to producing the highest possible quality of milk.