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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

65% of the milk you drink may be adulterated: Study

Samples Across India Fail Govt Test

New Delhi: Beware, your daily glass of good health could actually be doing you harm. As much as 100% of milk samples picked up in parts of the country by a government agency failed to conform to standards. 

    In a 33-state-and-UT study conducted by the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), not a single sample tested met the prescribed norms in West Bengal, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Mizoram. Other prominent states fared just a shade better. Around 89% of the samples tested from Gujarat, 83% from Jammu & Kashmir, 81% from Punjab, 76% from Rajasthan, 70% from Delhi and Haryana and 65% from Maharashtra failed the test. Around half of the samples from Madhya Pradesh (48%) also met a similar fate. 
    Only in Goa and Puducherry did 100% of the samples tested conform to required standards. 
    Of the 71 samples randomly taken from Delhi for testing, 50 were found to be contaminated with glucose and skimmed milk powder 

(SMP), which is usually added to milk in the lean season to enhance volumes. Elsewhere, milk was found adulterated with detergent, fat and even urea, besides the age-old practice of diluting it with water. Across the country, 68.4% of the samples of milk were found contaminated. 
68% milk samples fail quality test 
    States with comparatively better results included Kerala, where 28% of samples did not conform to the FSSAI standards, Karnataka (22%), Tamil Nadu (12%) and Andhra Pradesh (6.7%). 
    The samples for testing were collected randomly and analyzed from 33 states and Union Territories totalling a sample size of 1,791. These were sent to government laboratories for testing against the presence of common adulterants such as fat, neutralizers, hydrogen peroxide, sugar, starch, glucose, urea, detergent, formalin and vegetable 
fat. Just around 31.5% (565) of the total samples tested conformed to the FSSAI standards while the rest 68.4% (1,226) failed the test. Detergent was found in 103 samples (8.4%). "This was because the milk tanks were not properly washed. Detergents in milk can cause serious health problems," an FSSAI official said. 
    The non-conforming samples in rural areas numbered 381 (31%) out of which 64 (16.7%) were packet milk and 317 (83.2%) were loose samples. In urban areas, the number of non-confirming sam
ples were 845 (68.9%) out of which 282 (33.3%) were packed and 563 (66.6%) were loose. The most common adulteration was that of fat and solid not food (SNF), found in 574 (46.8%) of the non-conforming samples. This is because of dilution of milk with water. The second highest parameter of non-conformity was skim milk powder (SMP) in 548 samples (44.69%), which includes presence of glucose in 477 samples. Glucose would have been added to milk probably to enhance SNF."The study indicates that addition of water to milk is most common adulterant," the report said. 
Times View: This only confirms that food adulteration is common in India. Even milk, consumed primarily by children, isn't spared. What's particularly worrying is the kind of substances used to adulterate, including toxic chemicals. This shows that the trade off between the risk of getting caught and the 'reward' of huge profits is skewed heavily in favour of the latter. The government must focus on raising the risks to the adulterator. One way of doing this is by hiking the penalty, including making it analogous to attempt to murder in extreme cases. It's equally important to regularly check foodstuff for adulteration and ensure speedy trials.


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