Public health and the safety of milk and milk products from sheep and goats
Rev Sci Tech Off Int Epizoot
Goats and sheep rank third and fourth in terms of global milk production from different species, but unlike cow milk, which has stringent hygiene and quality regulations, microbiological standards for the production and distribution of goat milk and sheep milk are more relaxed. Difficulties in managing the sanitary quality of sheep and goat milk derive from a series of factors including the low level of production per head, the milking system, the difficulty involved in machine milking, the
... ne milking, the conditions under which the herds or flocks are raised, adverse climatic conditions and the spread of production over a wide geographic area. Fresh goat milk is consumed by infants and others with allergies to cow milk and is also used for on-farm manufactured cheese, with or without thermal treatment. The high fat content and peculiar taste of cheeses made from ewe milk are also very popular. These cheese varieties, which are mostly still of 'artisan-type', are not covered by regulatory definitions and the dispute over the use of raw versus pasteurised milk is still alive. However, in documented intoxications recorded after the consumption of cheese, there has always been evidence of incorrect temperature control during pasteurisation, the deliberate addition of raw milk, or contamination during storage. Compositional differences between the milk from cows, ewes and goats (chemical composition of lipids, phosphatase level, freezing point, natural bacterial inhibitor levels, somatic cell count, etc.) preclude the nondiscriminatory use of bovine standards for regulatory purposes. Quality standards adjusted for the specifics of ewe/goat milk should be considered. The production of safe cheese is linked to a series of conditions which ensure consumer health, primarily pasteurisation. In the absence of pasteurisation, all cheeses made from raw milk should be subjected to strict periodic controls.