Adulterated milk is what Indians are drinking | Centre for Science and Environment


Adulterated milk is what Indians are drinking

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70 per cent milk samples collected across the country by food safety authority did not conform to standards

The results of a first-of-its-kind survey on milk by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) reveal something startling—most Indians are consuming detergents and other contaminants through milk. 

The National Survey on Milk Adulteration 2011, a snap shot survey, was conducted to check the contaminants in milk, especially liquid milk, throughout the country. The study found that due to lack of hygiene and sanitation in milk handling and packaging, detergents (used during cleaning operations) are not washed properly and find their way into the milk. Other contaminants like urea, starch, glucose, formalin along with detergent are used as adulterants. These adulterants are used to increase the thickness and viscosity of the milk as well as to preserve it for a longer period. The study notes that the consumption of milk with detergents in hazardous to health. About eight per cent samples were found to have detergents.

Goa, Puducherry pass with flying colours
Water turns out to be the most common adulterant in milk. It reduces the nutritional value of milk. If contaminated, water poses a health risk to consumers. Samples were collected from 28 states and five union territories. The worst performers were Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, West Bengal, Mizoram, Jharkhand and Daman & Diu, where non-conformity with food safety standards was 100 per cent. The most common reason given for non conformity is the difference between demand and supply of milk. in order to meet the demand, the suppliers usually adulterate the milk and increase the quantity. Samples from Goa and Puducherry were 100 per cent compliant. 

There are nearly 70 per cent samples which have not conformed to the standards set for milk. The problems were more pronounced in the milk sold loose as compared to the packaged milk.  Samples collected from rural areas fared better with only 30 per cent non-compliance as compared to urban centres.

Of the total non-compliant samples, the highest, nearly 46 per cent, belonged to the category of low Solid Not Fat (SNF) and this was due to dilution of milk with water. The higher the SNF, the better the quality of milk. The other parameter for milk was the presence of skimmed milk powder, which was present in nearly 548 samples, out of which 477 samples contained glucose. A total of 1791 samples were tested.

Apart from fat, SNF, skimmed milk powder and glucose, the survey was also looking for the presence of neutralisers, acidity, hydrogen peroxide, sugar, starch, urea, salt, detergent, formalin and vegetable salt. Studies show that adulterants like salt, detergents and glucose add to the thickness and viscosity of the milk, while starch prevents curdling of milk. 

These adulterants are hazardous and cause irreversible damage to the organs. The Indian Council of Medical Research in an earlier report had mentioned that detergents in milk caused food poisoning and gastrointestinal complications; The other synthetic compounds cause impairments, heart problems, cancer and even death. The immediate effect of drinking adulterated milk with urea, caustic soda and formalin is gastroenteritis but the long term effects are known to be far more serious.

FSSAI has asked all its state and union territories enforcement divisions to strengthen checks on milk producers to ensure they are complying with the Food Safety and Standards Act.

Water, most common adulterant

  • Water turned out to be the most common adulterant in milk. It reduces the nutritional value of milk. If contaminated (with pesticides, heavy metals), water poses a health risk to consumers

  • Of the total non-compliant samples, the highest, nearly 46 per cent, belonged to the category of low Solid Not Fat (SNF) and this was due to dilution of milk with water

  • About eight per cent samples were found to have detergents

  • Skimmed milk powder was present in nearly 548 samples, out of which 477 samples contained glucose

 

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