Frauds are quite rampant in today’s time and the dairy industry is not immune. As per a recent study and analysis conducted by the Consumer Guidance Society of India (CGSI), your daily glass of good health can be a cause of panic as it is found that 78.12 per cent of milk selling in Maharashtra is adulterated and does not comply with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) standard specifications.
CGSI tested 690 samples over a period of January to October 2018. Out of the total samples, 228 samples were branded ones and 462 were unbranded samples. This undoubtedly can never be a favourable news for the Indians, where milk is widely used than any other country, that only 151 samples of the total comply with the standards laid down by the FSSAI, which is only 21.88 per cent. Amongst the branded milk samples, only 20.61 per cent are FSSAI standard specified, the rest of lot does not specify to the standards and amongst the loose unbranded samples, only 22.51 per cent comply with the FSSAI standard specifications.
It’s been a long time that both the government and the Dairy Industry are struggling against the adulteration in milk and the offenders. This is an act of intentionally reducing the quality of milk and selling it either by admixture or a substitution of inferior substances. Diluting with water is one of the most common ways of milk adulteration. Besides being really inferior in its nutritional value, contaminated water can also cause additional health problems. The other adulterants used are mainly detergent, foreign fat, starch, sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), sugar, urea, salt, maltodextrin, sodium carbonate, formalin, and ammonium sulphate.
Vipin Dera, a milkman from Andheri, regretted how small businessmen like him get harassed because of the big dairy industry fraudsters. He sighed over, “I don’t sell packaged milk as I own a cattle farm. I agree that adding water to the milk is one of the easiest tricks followed in the market, but the ones who sell chemicals in the name of milk are the biggest culprits. A part of the dairy industry cheats customers and stuff their pocket with extra money but never get caught. However, the ones, who don’t adulterate milk, are getting trapped in the loop despite being faultless.”
In an effort to crackdown the nuisance, the state government had made adulteration of milk a non-bailable offence, though it hardly made any difference to the adulterators and the traders and the recent study is a big disappointment and a cause of fret. Although inadequate monitoring and lack of proper law enforcement have led the situation to become the worst!
Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam asserted, “The data regarding adulterated milk revealed by the CGSI is quite shocking. If the government is allowing the supply of such impure milk, it is an alarming situation! The government must take actions against those who are involved in this adulteration racket and stop this immediately as it is dangerous for the health of people in the city as well as the state. After implementation of the process to stop milk adulteration, the administration must check that the FSSAI criteria are being fulfilled by all the milk manufacturers.”
India is the world’s largest milk producer and milk products. Under the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006, the FSSAI, an autonomous body set under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, has an aim to implement food safety and regulation in India as well as protecting and promoting public health.
Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna chief Raju Shetti stated, “I don’t think that the data put forth by the CGSI is much reliable but I agree that adulteration does exist. The water-mixed milk doesn’t affect the health and isn’t much injurious but in the current period of time, the adulteration of chemicals in the milk is a major cause of concern. Hence, the government should be strict against the milk mafias what they are not. Loose law and order help the mafias take advantage and loot the customers.”
Commenting on the analysis report, CGSI states Chairman Dr. Sitaram Dixit said, “Milk forms an essential nutritive food portion for most humans and that it needs to comply with the FSSAI standards. In comparison to the last year’s test results, poor quality milk on sale has actually increased by 8 per cent.” On one hand, while it is highly difficult for the common man to track the production process and locate the item’s source, FSSAI’s guidelines mentions simple tests that can help distinguish a pure sample from an adulterated one.
In a conversation with Afternoon Voice, Dr. Dixit said, “According to me, the customers themselves are more responsible than anyone. During the survey, when we spoke to people, we got to know that they do not buy packaged milk from the authorised outlets but from the roadside milk sellers — while purchasing from a recognised store makes it possible to catch hold of the adulterator, it is not possible in the latter. The government should take strict action in checking whatever material comes out of the packaging units should follow the FSSAI standards. Diluting milk with water doesn’t affect the health per se, but it depends on the quality of water used!”
The fraudulent practices for financial gain in the dairy business, which is contemplated as the sequel of growing market demand, not only cheat consumers’ interest and rights but also very toxic for our health. As per the Indian Council of Medical Research report, detergent as milk adulterants can cause food poisoning and other gastrointestinal complications and its high alkaline level can also damage body tissue and destroy proteins. Other synthetic components can cause impairments, heart problems, cancer or even death.
What else can Milk Adulteration be called other than Food Fraud? Providing safe food is the least that the administration can assure the citizens of. Experts believe Food Fraud undermines confidence in the food supply and a genuine effort to enforce transparency and surveillance across the entire food supply chain can only combat the bummer.