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The Story of Irish Raw Milk

Slow Food Ireland has been promoting raw milk for many years now, working closely with consumers, farmers, cheesemakers and cheesemongers such as Sheridans, who believe that it is essential to produce the best cheeses and that freedom of choice is a fundamental right.

The Irish  Raw Milk Cheese Presidium was started in 2005 to revive Ireland's ancient traditions and flavors. The Presidium is made up of eight artisan producers each with their own distinctive style of cheesemaking but who all share a common goal: to produce a safe, high quality cheese, made using raw milk sourced from their own or nearby herds.

Slow Food Ireland has followed this path even if nowadays virtually all Irish milk, with a few rare exceptions, is pasteurized and homogenized. In the absence of specific regulations in Ireland, raw milk may currently be sold to the public and it is legal today to sell it from a farm or through retail outlets. Yet, the FSAI and the Department of Agriculture are planning to ban the sale of raw milk to the public at the end of 2011. This removes the choice from those who would rather have unpasteurized milk.

Slow Food Ireland wants to ensure that there is a transparent debate about the issue and that the government will legislate only after having consulted with key stakeholders.

Other EU countries; including England, Wales and Northern Ireland in Britain, have introduced a regulated system whereby producers who undertake to operate specific production and labeling protocols may continue to sell raw milk to the public.

Slow Food Ireland has asked the FSAI and the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Food on repeated occasions to draw up a protocol for farmers who wish to produce the finest milk for liquid milk production. The raw milk would be clearly labelled to define it as such and would also clearly state the risks as well as drawing attention to the particular groups who may wish to avoid consumption of raw milk. A system such as this would preserve the freedom of choice, whilst at the same time clearly signaling potential risks.

Slow Food Ireland believes that regulations in the food industry are important but also that they must be appropriate to the risk. It is estimated that 100,000 people in Ireland regularly drink raw milk. The HSE statistics up to 2011 do not indicate a linked health concern, so the Irish association is asking why this is this new law needed now and why can the best practices that have been established in other countries, who value the naturalness of their foods not be adopted?

For any Irish person who feels you should have a choice, you can sign this petition or contact Slow Food East Cork at

You can alternatively petition your own TD or write a letter yourself to the Minister for Agriculture. You may also download Slow Food Ireland's petition letter and post it to the Minister. Please include your name and address in any communication, or it will not be valid.

Raw Milk

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