An Otago Harbour dairy farmer has been ordered to stop selling raw milk after a tuberculosis-positive cow was discovered at the farm.

The farmer sold raw milk from his farmgate until the Ministry for Primary Industries issued a notice of direction to cease supplying and selling raw milk last week.

The heifer, which was not part of the milking herd, tested positive for bovine tuberculosis after routine testing by Ospri.

The industry good body notified the ministry and the herd's Tb-free status was suspended, Ministry for Primary Industries director, animals and animal products, Mat Stone said.


Attempts to contact the farmer yesterday were unsuccessful.

"This is a difficult situation for the farmer and MPI has sympathy for the position he is in,'' Stone said.

"However, our first concern has to be the health and safety of consumers.

"The heifer has not been milked, but until further testing is done there is uncertainty around the remainder of the herd being Tb-free.

"The notice of direction is an important precautionary measure. Bovine tuberculosis is a serious disease and can be spread through raw milk. Young people, the elderly, pregnant women and the immunocompromised are particularly vulnerable.''

The farmer could still supply milk for pasteurisation and the ministry would help facilitate that, Stone said.

The notice of direction would remain in place until the ministry and Ospri were confident the risk of tuberculosis was eliminated.

"There will be further testing of the herd,'' Stone said."Once this testing has been completed, a final Tb determination will be made. If the results are negative, the herd will return to Tb-free status and MPI will be able to lift the notice of direction.''

The herd contained about 70 cows and there had been no direction to kill any other cows in the herd, he said.

It was unclear when the further tests would take place.