The Swedish Food Agency (Livsmedelsverket) responded to claims that raw milk regulations in the country are too strict.
An opinion piece in Svenska Dagbladet He said that raw, unpasteurized milk is almost impossible to buy in Sweden and the regulations are an example of when state control has good intentions but negative consequences.
Ann-Helene Meyer von Bremen and Martin Ragnar said the rules put too much emphasis on risks and not enough attention on benefits.
In Sweden, raw milk cannot be bought in stores, but can be sold or given away from farms directly to the consumer. Farms that want to sell raw milk must register with their local authority.
Once registered, they can sell up to 70 liters of raw milk per week to the public. Written information must be provided to consumers stating that the milk is not pasteurized and may contain harmful bacteria. The recommendation is that the milk be boiled or used in dishes that are heat treated before consumption. Children and people with weakened immune systems should not drink milk without prior heat treatment.
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In response to the article, Mats Lindblad of Livsmedelsverket said it is not true that there is a low risk from drinking unpasteurized milk, as it can contain several different types of bacteria that can make people sick.
E. coli, a bacterium sometimes found in cows, was given as an example. It can have very serious consequences, as the infection can damage the kidneys of young children and lead to death in severe cases.
One of the main goals of Livsmedelsverket is to ensure that consumers do not get sick from food. The sale of unpasteurized milk is regulated and this is cited as a possible explanation for so few related illnesses in recent years.
The agency said it had looked at both the benefits and risks of drinking unpasteurized milk, acknowledging studies of the vitamin content of milk before and after pasteurization and a reduction in allergies in children raised on farms. Overall, the assessment is that the risks of unpasteurized milk outweigh any benefits.
Meanwhile, Livsmedelsverket has revealed that it closed a business earlier this month due to poor hygiene conditions.
Al Hana Mejeri AB has also been banned from selling food. All food manufactured or sold by the company must be removed from stores and disposed of. People who have affected items at home were told not to consume them. Articles are tagged as Al Hana Mejeri.
The company primarily makes dairy products like yogurt and cheese, but also offers items including olive oil. Most of the products were sold to shops in Skåne, but may have been passed on to other companies as well.
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