Harsh Vardhan, union minister for science and technology, left everybody dumbfounded when he told the Lok Sabha recently that more than 68% of milk sold in the country does not conform to quality standards mandated by India’s food regulator FSSAI. This implies that nearly two out of every three Indians drink low quality milk, potentially adulterated with harmful substances such as detergent, caustic soda, urea and paint. This data was sourced from a nationwide survey that FSSAI had conducted in 2011.
These facts are alarming and call for urgent action to stop adulteration of milk since India is the largest producer and consumer of milk. It’san issue of grave concern since milk and milk products are widely consumed as part of the daily diet. The hazardous materials used to adulterate milk can lead to serious illnesses, and as such thesepractices need to be stopped. More people may be at risk now, since a report by US government last year had indicated that milk consumption in India would increase by 5% to reach 62.75 million metric tonnes in 2016.
Government initiatives to check milk adulteration
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agency in every State has increased the frequency of raids it conducts to check adulteration of various food items including milk and milk products. Also, more and more areas are being covered with the target to include small cities, towns, and other urban centers. Harsh Vardhan informed Lok Sabha members that in the near future, GPS-based technology would be used to pinpoint the exact location in the milk supply chain where the adulteration may have occurred. This would be a colossal system and involve hi-tech technology tools since milk is sourced from around 2 lakh villages across India for sale and distribution.
The minister also talked about a new scanner that can detect milk adulteration in just 40 seconds. This scanner will also be able to identify the type of adulterant used in the milk. Earlier, a separate chemical test was conducted for each adulterant, a process that was much expensive and time-consuming. This scanner would be hugely beneficial for milk collection centers to quickly establish the purity of milk. The credit for the development of this first-of-its-kind technology goes to the Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute in Rajasthan’s Pilani town. The innovation underscores the government’scommitment towards putting an end to adulteration of milk and milk products.
What you can do
On your part, what you can do is choose genuine, branded milk and milk products. You may trust your local ‘dhoodhwala’, but that may not be enough to guarantee milk purity. Go for milk brands that have their own milk collection, quality testing and distribution systems.