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Food Safety Focus (214th Issue, May 2024) – Article 3

Risk of Unpasteurised Dairy Products

Unpasteurised milk and their products are inherently high-risk as they can harbour food-borne pathogens. There have been overseas reports of E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, Campylobacter, etc. outbreaks associated with raw milk. Recently, the first reported outbreak of a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A(H5N1) virus (“H5N1 bird flu”) in dairy cows in the United States and the subsequent suspected single human case via exposure to dairy cows in early April 2024 have raised food safety concerns. 

In terms of food safety, some overseas authorities recommend the public not to consume unpasteurised or undercooked milk or its milk products (e.g. raw milk, raw milk cheese) including those from suspected or confirmed HPAI infected animals. Pasteurisation or sterilisation are proven to inactivate or eliminate bacteria and viruses, including HPAI, in milk and milk products. 

Locally, all liquid milk for sale have to be heat-treated, while unpasteurised milk can be used to make some specialty cheeses. Susceptible populations should avoid consuming unpasteurised milk and its products.