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News Release

CountryDateRelease Date

United Kingdom

5th Dec 2001


UK Government adopts comprehensive strategy for eliminating MAP from milk

London, England -- The UK government today adopted a comprehensive strategy to prevent human exposure to the bacterium Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP). MAP is believed by a growing number of scientists to be a cause of Crohn's Disease, a lifelong, debiliating and incurable bowel disease suffered mainly by the young.

The Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF), which advises the UK Government Food Standards Agency, today approved a comprehensive program of measures aimed at eliminating MAP from retail milk, as purchased by consumers. Previous research commissioned by the ACMSF showed that live MAP could be cultured from approximately 2% of retail milk on sale in the United Kingdom.

The strategy adopted by the ACMSF shows that the UK Government is taking the issue of MAP and Crohn's Disease extremely seriously. As the ACMSF says in its strategy document: ".... the Agency has put to one side the question of whether or not there is a link between MAP and Crohn's Disease. The Agency believes that precautionary action to reduce human exposure to MAP should start now and should not be dependent on waiting for the link to be proven."

Among the raft of measures approved by the ACMSF are:
  • Increasing pasteurisation times from 15 seconds to 25 seconds. Although some dairies had voluntarily adopted this extended pasteurisation time in 1998, the more stringent conditions will now become standard government recommendation.

  • Stricter quality monitoring of pasteurisation plants. Due to the potential for MAP to survive pasteurisation because of defective or improperly operated pasteurisation machinery, dairies and farms will be closely monitored to ensure that they are complying with regulations.

  • Improvement of on-farm milking practices. Because a likely route for MAP to infect milk is faecal contamination, on-farm milking practices are to be closely studied to find the most effective method to prevent this contamination.

  • Elimination of MAP infection from herds. The ACMSF is initiating a multi-pronged effort to eliminate MAP from herds of food animals, including improvement of existing diagnostics, a national survey to determine the prevalence of MAP infection in UK dairy herds, and development of a improved vaccination methods to protect animals from the infection.

  • Alternative pasteurisation technologies. The ACMSF is coordinating several research projects which are assessing the effectiveness of several novel pasteurisation methods against MAP. The methods being studied include high-pressure homogenisation, double pasteurisation, microfiltration and bactofugation.

The timetable by which these measures will be implemented will be finalised in another ACMSF meeting, to be held in London in January 2002.

PARA's position

PARA greatly welcomes these developments, and commends the UK Government on its willingness to act in the best interests of its citizens and the best interests of the public health. However, there are some further measures which PARA would like to see the UK Government undertake.

  • Labelling of extended pasteurisation. Since it is not possible for the UK Government to mandate 25 second pasteurisation for all UK milk, for reasons of European regulation, there will still be some 15 second pasteurised milk for sale in the UK. In order that Crohn's Disease patients and their families be able to differentiate between 25 second and 15 second pasteurised milk, it is vital that the pasteurisation time be labelled on retail milk containers.

  • Elimination of MAP from beef. Milk is not the only route for transmission of MAP to the human population. MAP can also be transmitted through beef from infected cows, and there is evidence to believe that the standard temperatures used for cooking of beef will not effectively kill the organism. Although the comprehensive strategy to deal with MAP in milk is a welcome start, it does not deal with the whole MAP problem.

For further information contact

ContactAlan Kennedy
Paratuberculosis Awareness and Research Association, Inc.
E-mailAlan Kennedy

Paratuberculosis Awareness and Research Association, Inc.

is a non-profit organization of Crohn's disease patients, their families and friends who are dedicated to the following goals:
  1. To raise awareness of the zoonotic (disease-causing) potential of the bacterium, MAP, in the national community of sufferers of Crohn's disease, in medical, veterinary and food science research communities, in governmental agencies and in the public in general
  2. To urge governmental agencies to directly address control and eventual eradication of MAP from the human environment, particularly from foods of animal origin
  3. To urge governmental and medical research agencies to make funding available for research which will determine the role played by MAP in causing Crohn's disease

Paratuberculosis Awareness and Research Association, Inc.
Box 16219
Temple Terrace, FL 33687-6219

Source:   Contact PARA:
Paratuberculosis Awareness & Research Association