A farmer who sold raw milk to customers has been convicted for breaching the Animal Products Act.
John Martin was convicted of three of the seven charges brought against him by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) when he appeared in the Levin District Court today.
Charges against his wife, Phillippa Martin, were dropped.
In December 2019 the MPI conducted raids in Auckland, Hawke's Bay, Manawatū, Horowhenua, Nelson, and Southland following a year-long operation to identify illegal producers of raw milk.
One of the raw milk suppliers targeted during these raids was Horowhenua-based MannaMilk, owned by the Martins.
Outside court Phillippa Martin said she was extremely happy to have the charges against her dropped.
"I'm worried for [my] husband though … this has gone on long enough, and the level of stress is significant."
The couple started selling raw milk over a decade ago to respond to customer demand, so they set up MannaMilk, allowing them to distribute that milk to partners of the limited company.
MannaMilk partners paid for the costs of animal husbandry and bottling the milk, with a majority living on the Kāpiti Coast, Wellington, and Hutt Valley.
In 2016 a Government law change required suppliers of raw milk to register with the MPI and abide by a set of new rules for its storage and distribution.
At the time of the raids the MPI manager of food compliance, Melinda Sando, said raw milk producers were putting consumers at risk.
"There have been multiple instances in the past of people getting sick after drinking raw milk from some of these suppliers. We can't let this continue," Sando said.
"Raw, unpasteurised milk is a risky product as it hasn't been heat-treated [pasteurised] to remove illness-causing bacteria including E. coli, listeria, and Campylobacter," she said.
"These types of bacteria most commonly cause severe diarrhoea and vomiting, but occasionally some have been linked with more serious complications that include miscarriage, paralysis, meningitis, and serious kidney problems in children. Raw milk may also be a source of tuberculosis."
Judge Northwood remanded John Martin for sentencing on March 23.
The Director General of Food Safety at MPI, Vincent Arbuckle, confirmed Mr Martin had plead guilty to three charges this morning.
"As the matter is still before the court, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further."