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Rising adulteration of milk concerns dealers

20,March, 2016

Chennai: Though India is among the leading producers of milk and is ahead in terms of consumption, recent reports on adulteration has caused a lot of concern.

According to Consumer Association of India (Food Division) director G Santhanarajan, "It is a sad fact that milk is slowly falling into the category of the most adulterated products in the country."

Explaining how to identify an adulterated milk, Santhanarajan says, "There are two types, one is spot identification and other is lab test. In spot test, we can identify starch, soda powder or uric acid by mixing chemicals with it. In lab test, various methods are used to determine whether the milk is adulterated or not."

Recalling the history of adulteration in recent times, Tamilnadu Milk Welfare Association president S A Ponnuswamy said, ‘It all started in 2012, when petition was filed in Supreme Court regarding milk adulteration, and the Central government was asked to file a report on the issue. When the report was filed, based on sample surveys throughout the country. It showed that 68 per cent of the milk available in the market was adulterated. It was found that impure materials, like detergent oil, soya powder, urea were used in the adulteration. Moreover, adulteration level was very high in States like Orissa, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh."

While, these materials, can surely destroy all properties of the milk, many dealers and sellers suspect the hand of small-time dairy producers indulging in the practice of mixing starch, soyapowder, vegetable gel to make milk thick. They say that when the milk is procured, the fat and cream are removed for preparing butter, milk powder, ice-cream.

Since the important ingredient are removed, the milk becomes watery, weighs less, in order to compensate some them follow this practice. They maintain that such acts, where half litre of adulterated milk can cause stomach upset, food poisoning, impotence and even cancer!

Observing the intensity of the adulteration, the apex court had observed a hefty fine must be imposed and action taken against culprits while directing State governments to act.

It must be noted that the Food Safety Act entails a fine of just Rs 1,500 or three months rigorous imprisonment for violators. Some experts say that food safety officials inspect milk sellers, take away the sample for testing. But they don’t show the result to the dealers or sellers.

Instead, they are said to claim that the errant dairy is warned. Such a kind of leniency would only encourage dairy companies. Moreover, there isn’t any mechanism to tackle those indulging in adulteration.

Explaining with an example, Ponnuswamy says, "In 2015, a resident of Ayanavaram bought two packets of curd from local shop. Late in the evening, he mixed the curd and ate it. But sadly he was immediately affected by food poisoning. After recovering from the disease, he found the curd was neither a milk or butter milk, but a sort of chemical."

Explaining, he says, "We want a committee to monitor entire milk processing, from procurement to selling. Since, adulterated milk is not only sold by seller or dealer, but also by many small time companies and producers. Committee can comprise members from private milk dairy companies, government officials, office-bearers from milk producers and dealers association."

Echoing the same view, Tamilnadu Milk Producers Association president K A Senguttuvel said, "Ever since the Food Safety Act was implemented, I personally feel some officials are not concerned about the grave consequences of adulteration. It is high time, authorities concerned should taken immediate action to ensure safety of milk."

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