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HomeEditorialIt doesn't take much to find out if your milk is adulterated

It doesn’t take much to find out if your milk is adulterated

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Adulteration in milk is not a new thing, I remember when I was a small child a milkman used to carry those typical measurements and big milk can on a bicycle to deliver milk door to door, my grandmother used to pore few drops on the floor by questioning milkman “aaj bhi dudh me paani milaya kya? Doodh patla lag raha hai”. (Have you added water to the milk? its consistency is thin). This was a repetitive question to the milkman. Since childhood we have known that milk is most commonly diluted with water – this not only reduces its nutritional value, but contaminated water can also cause additional health problems. But as time changed and we adopted modern ways of storing or packing milk adulteration has gone to dangerous levels.

India is the largest milk-producing country but almost 70% of the milk sold and consumed in India is adulterated by contaminants such as detergent and skim milk powder, but impure water is the highest contaminant. Milk adulteration techniques will be invented to meet the demand for milk products during the festival season. Farmers generally mix milk powder/oil, Urea, and detergent to provide whiteness and levelling SNF. Detergents are added to emulsify and dissolve oil in milk.

Collection agents Collect substandard milk from farmers. Due to poor cold-chain infrastructure, it adds formalin and hydrogen peroxide to prolong its freshness. Does pasteurization & homogenization. Store milk for a day or two before selling it. Milk brands get milk from agents, reconstitute it with skimmed milk powder to create variants, and supply it after packing to customers. Adulteration techniques are business secrets. But there is no rocket science to understand that adulteration happens on every level. It doesn’t take much to find out if your milk is adulterated. A few quick and easy tests can tell you if your milk is laced with any adulterant. There are also adulteration test kits available in the market today.

The other adulterants used are mainly detergent, foreign fat, starch, sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), sugar, urea, pond water, salt, maltodextrin, sodium carbonate, formalin, and ammonium sulphate. It has been a cause of concern for both the Government and the Dairy Industry. The Indian Council of Medical Research has reported, “Milk adulterants have hazardous health effects. The detergent in milk can cause food poisoning and other gastrointestinal complications. Its high alkaline level can also damage body tissue and destroy proteins. Other synthetic components can cause impairments, heart problems, cancer, or even death. While the immediate effect of drinking milk adulterated with urea, caustic soda, and formalin is gastroenteritis, the long-term effects are far more serious.

Contaminated milk continues to be sold in Maharashtra despite crackdown measures taken by authorities. The Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA), had, in a study, found that 20 per cent of the milk is adulterated. Though the study prompted immediate action and licenses of 21 dairies to be suspended, yet, there is no respite. India produces a little over 105 million tonnes (mt) of milk annually and out of this Mumbai consumes 1.65 mt. Of that, 0.61 million tonnes are substandard & adulterated. The problem is not restricted to just within the state. Milk adulteration takes place, in the open in areas like Andheri, Antop Hill, Saki Naka, Kurla, Kurar village, Dahisar Baithi chawl, and Dharavi in Mumbai. The laws are weak, and that is the reason such practices are not stoppable. Moreover, FDA does not have a dedicated food testing laboratory of its own.

Reports of substandard and adulterated food frequent the front pages of newspapers. Samples of items we consume daily—milk, pulses, oils, vegetables, sugar, among many others—have been rated substandard. While it is difficult to track the production process and locate the item’s source, simple tests can help you distinguish a pure sample from an adulterated one.

To find out water in milk, put a drop of milk on a polished, slanting surface

Pure milk either stays or flows slowly leaving a white trail behind

Milk is adulterated with flow immediately without leaving a mark.

To find detergent in milk, take 5-10 millilitres (ML) of milk sample and an equal quantity of water and shake the mixture thoroughly, if the milk is adulterated with detergent, it forms dense lather pure dairy will have a thin layer of foam.

The easiest and domestic way to identify if milk is adulterated or not is to dip your finger in the milk and pour the drop on the opposite of a clean palm. If it slides too fast and leaves behind a water trail, the milk is added with water. If it is too thick and messy it is added with starch. However, if it is thin and stays: cow milk is genuine, if it is thick and stays: buffalo milk is genuine. This experiment holds good with your experience.

Detecting starch in milk and milk products, Boil 2-3 ML of the sample (milk, khoya, chenna or paneer) with 5 ML of water for other ghee and butter, water need not be added. Add 2-3 drops of tincture of iodine after letting it cool

The formation of blue colour indicates the presence of starch.

Food adulteration is a global concern and developing countries are at higher risk associated with it due to a lack of monitoring and policies. However, this is one of the most common phenomena that have been overlooked in many countries. Unfortunately, in contrast to common belief, milk adulterants can pose serious health hazards leading to fatal diseases. Just reading the news and condemning the act is not enough, we as responsible citizens need to be more alert and more intelligent in diagnosing what we receive and consume.

Stay healthy and stay fit.

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Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with three Honourary Doctorate in Journalism. Vaidehi has been an active journalist for the past 21 years, and is also the founding editor of an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, and The Democracy digital video news portal is her brain child. Vaidehi has three books in her name, "Sikhism vs Sickism", "Life Beyond Complications" and "Vedanti". She is an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, OSCP offensive securities, Certified Security Analyst and Licensed Penetration Tester that caters to her freelance jobs.
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