New Zealand has had 13 confirmed cases of food-borne illness associated with raw milk in the past six months, Chester Borrows says.
The Whanganui MP was asked about new Ministry for Primary Industries regulations on the sale of raw milk. Two businesses in the Whanganui region - Chananel Farm and Village Milk in Marton - are closing because those new regulations are so costly.
A remaining supplier, Edo Mooij in Okoia, said he had to carry on to pay his mortgage but felt "at the mercy" of the ministry.
Mr Borrows said the regulations were not intended to put small operators out of business.
Raw milk is not heat-treated to kill potentially harmful bacteria like campylobacter, salmonella, and a toxin-producing E. coli strain. The elderly, babies and children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of illness from it, and some of that illness can be severe.
There have been two outbreaks of illness in Northland and Auckland linked to drinking raw milk. They involved children as well as adults, Mr Borrows said.
But there is also a demand for raw milk, both in cities and in the country.
"The new rules strike a balance between managing the risks to public health and recognising that there is demand for raw milk," the MP said.
The regulations were developed after a lot of consultation, including with raw milk producers.
To soften their impact, the ministry will be holding workshops for raw milk producers to help them implement the rules. They also have until November 1 to fully comply.
Mr Borrows said the main difference between what is required of raw milk and pasteurised milk suppliers is that raw milk suppliers have to do more testing because their milk would not be heat-treated to kill bacteria.
The new regulations require suitable premises and equipment, animals in good health, records of sales, and labelling that spells out risk.
Raw milk suppliers will also need to be registered with the ministry, and audited.