Raw milk cheese production

The Primary Production and Processing Standard for Dairy (Standard 4.2.4) enables the production and sale of selected cheeses made from unpasteurised milk.

The Standard requires strict through-chain control over the production, transport and processing of raw milk to ensure final product is safe for consumers. They are in addition to existing requirements under Standard 4.2.4. 

Businesses wishing to apply to produce or transport raw milk for making raw milk cheese, or to produce raw milk cheese, will need to demonstrate compliance before being approved by DFSV.

Businesses approved for production or transport of raw milk or raw milk cheese will be subject to more frequent auditing, testing and monitoring regimes due to the increased food safety controls required to ensure the safety of raw milk for processing and the added risk associated with production without pasteurisation.

Further information is provided below for each licence type.

Manufacturers intending to produce raw milk cheese need to:

  • address the additional requirements under 4.2.4 in a documented and validated food safety program for DFSV approval
  • modify their premises (factory) so that it can satisfy all requirements
  • provide evidence that their proposed product will consistently meet the qualifying criteria: that the finished product will not support the growth of pathogens and there is no net increase in pathogens during the production process.
Specific requirements are outlined in the DFSV checklist.

The Raw Milk Cheese Decision Support Tool was developed to assist cheese producers and food safety managers to assess whether a particular raw milk cheese, and process, satisfies Australian regulations for the safe production of raw milk cheeses. The tool software is available to download from the University of Tasmania website at www.foodsafetycentre.com.au/RMCtool.php

DFSV will work with applicants to ensure that the validation process is appropriate for the product proposed.

Production must not commence prior to DFSV approval of the proposed validation process and all aspects of the proposed (farm, carrier or manufacturer) supply chain. Without an approved, compliant supply of raw milk or an approved, compliant carrier (if one is required) the through-chain measures designed to ensure the safety of the finished product are not considered to be in place.

To produce milk for raw milk cheese farmers must:

  • develop or modify their food safety programs to address the additional requirements under Standard 4.2.4.
  • demonstrate to DFSV that these additional measures are in place in the dairy and milking practices and that an acceptable level of safety can be achieved.

This will include how you will manage animal health and identification, control inputs, enhance the hygiene of milking operations, and meet more stringent microbiological criteria. The specific requirements for dairy farmers producing raw milk for raw milk cheese are outlined in the DFSV checklist.

DFSV will inspect your premises and food safety program and both must be approved before you can commence business producing milk for raw milk cheese products.

Where raw milk for raw milk cheese needs to be transported from the farm to the factory, a dairy carrier business approved to carry this milk must be used.

To transport raw milk for raw milk cheese making, dairy carriers must:

  • address some additional requirements in their food safety program for DFSV approval
  • modify tankers (and cleaning equipment) so that they can satisfy all requirements.

The additional measures relate to temperature control and developing a procedure to ensure there is no cross-contamination between milk intended for raw milk cheese manufacture with that for general dairy processing. Specific requirements are outlined in the DFSV checklist.

DFSV will inspect your vehicles and food safety program and both must be approved before you can commence business carrying milk for raw milk cheese production.

Prospective applicants are encouraged to contact DFSV early on to discuss the requirements to produce or transport raw milk for making raw milk cheese, or to manufacture raw milk cheese.