RECORDING | Public health risks related to the consumption of raw milk and dairy products made from raw milk

By Food Focus on 18 September 2023

Raw milk has a diverse microbial flora which can include pathogens transmissible to humans.

The main microbiological hazards associated with raw milk from milking animals can be identified using a decision tree approach, considering the evidence of milk-borne infection and the hazards being present and the impact of potential hazards on human health for example Campylobacter spp., Salmonella spp., shigatoxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC), Brucella abortus and Mycobacterium bovis.

Antimicrobial resistance has been reported in South Africa in some of the main bacterial hazards isolated from raw milk or associated equipment and is very important to public health. The sale of raw milk for direct human consumption by means of the use “retail bulk milk tanks” is permitted in some municipal jurisdictions without consumers purchasing such milk, instructed to boil the milk before consumption, which would eliminate microbiological risks.

With respect to internet sales of raw milk (destined for direct human consumption), there is a need for microbiological, temperature, and storage time data to assess the impact of this distribution route.

Intrinsic contamination of raw milk with pathogens can arise from animals with systemic infection as well as from localised infections such as mastitis. Extrinsic contamination can arise from faecal contamination and from the wider farm environment including poor personal and equipment hygiene. In the absence of proper control measures that can significantly reduce risk relative to a baseline of legal standards, and expected good practice, the potential for an increase in risk is a given.

The question however remains – How successful are the control measures regarding the consumption of raw milk for direct consumption currently or are South African consumers at risk? Watch the video below to find out:


Jompie Burger achieved a Diploma in Public Health at the Technicon Pretoria.

Practising as an Environmental Health Practitioner he furthered his studies and obtained a Btech Environmental Health as well as a BA in Public Administration. 

During the time of holding the position of Assistant Head of Health Services at the City Council of Springs he extended his field of expertise to food safety which included further studies in food safety management systems. 

After ending his career at the local authority in 1999 he became involved in product development, experienced life as owner of an artisanal cheese factory, worked as a food safety consultant for various brand names in the food industry as well as external food safety auditor in the retail sector. 

In 2005 he became involved in the organised dairy industry by managing various statutory projects on behalf of the Dairy Standard Agency (DSA).

Jompie is currently the Managing Director of the DSA, an independent non-profit organisation, whose primary objective is to promote dairy quality and safety in the interest of the industry and the consumer. He serves on several Milk SA advisory committees and technical committees of organisations such as the SABS and the International Dairy Federation (IDF).