“Selfridges is being taken to court for putting public health at risk by selling fashionable ‘raw’ milk at its flagship London store, the government’s food watchdog has announced.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) believes Selfridges broke strict hygiene regulations by allowing Sussex farmer Stephen Hook to sell raw milk in the food hall in December 2011.
Selfridges, which is frequented by chefs and celebrities, allowed raw milk fans to fill up their own bottles from a vending machine in the store for £3.50 per litre.
It is legal for farmers to sell raw milk direct to the consumer, for example from the farmgate or at farmers’ markets, but not for retailers to sell the product.
However, Selfridges believes it has done “nothing wrong” because the milk was being sold directly to the customer by a farmer.
Raw milk can contain dangerous bacteria such as salmonella. However it is widely available on the Continent, where customers are allowed to fill their own bottles in shops….”
As mentioned in these stories, sale of raw milk through vending machines such as Selfridges used is common across Europe. So what makes it supposedly unsafe in Britain but no big deal in Italy, Slovenia, France, etc.? England has long had a policy of allowing farm gate sales of raw milk to members of the public. But it suddenly becomes dangerous when it’s sold in a store?
The man who made the first film on Michael Schmidt, “Organic Hero or Bioterrorist”, Norman Lofts, even went to England to interview the Queen’s herdsman about the raw milk situation, because of course the Queen and her family have been reputed to drink raw milk. Turns out the Queen’s own farm store had even been selling raw milk to the public up to a week or so before he arrived. Did they stop because it was becoming a politically sensitive issue in the former colonies? We may never know. This would have been about five years ago.
Interesting that such a major store as Selfridges would put themselves on the line to push the boundaries as to where raw milk could be sold in Britain. Did they imagine they’d be left alone? Was it a publicity stunt? Are there really food rights activists behind this seemingly corporate decision? Whatever the reason, it’s good to get some raw milk news from somewhere other than North America for a change.
Stories about that film on The Bovine: