News on Adulterated Milk

Milk samples with sugar, edible oil ring health alarm
Tuesday, 07/04/2015

PUNE: Milk samples collected from the Pune administrative division and tested were found adulterated with sugar and edible oil, and of substandard quality.

A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report showed about 24% of the 408 milk samples drawn between April 2014 and March 2015 were either unsafe or did not comply with the standards set by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

FDA officials, who drew the samples to check if they were fit for consumption, found 15 to be unsafe while 83 failed to meet the standard criteria. They struck a cautionary note on the eve of World Health Day on April 7 which has 'make food safe' as the theme this year.

The samples were taken from milk collection centres, tankers, processing units, local dairies and vendors and tested at notified public health laboratories in Pune and Mumbai. Officials have filed criminal cases against suppliers found selling unsafe milk.

"Barring 15 samples, wherein milk was adulterated with sugar and edible oil rendering it harmful for consumption, the rest of the 83 samples were sub-standard, but safe for consumption. It means they lacked the amount of fat and solids-not-fat (SNF) as per norms laid down by the law," Shashikant Kekare, joint commissioner (food) of FDA, Pune, said.

SNF refers to solids-not-fat, comprising protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals in milk other than milk fat. While the sugar content in milk is bad for diabetics with high sugar levels, the oil is a worry for those fighting obesity.

"We have strengthened our surveillance. Safety of human lives is of utmost importance and no one will be allowed to play with the lives of consumers," said Kekare.

As many as 12 of the 15 samples found unsafe for human consumption were adulterated using sugar and the remaining three had edible oil. Consumption of such milk can be harmful especially to diabetics and the obese, Kekare added.

The unsafe samples found adulterated with mainly sugar and edible oil were drawn from Satara (4), Solapur (5), Kolhapur (2) and Sangli (3) and Pune (1).

"Milk is the most common food we recommend to patients for its nutritive value. Naturally, we don't consider the presence of adulterants like sugar and edible oil when we do so. Consumption of sugar-laced milk on a regular basis will be hazardous for diabetics or people with elevated blood sugar levels," said internal medicine expert Abhijit Joshi of Joshi Hospital.

"If a diabetic is following the prescribed diet and medication, he or she may still have less control over the sugar level after consuming such milk every day," he added. Clinical nutritionist Dhanashree Karmarkar Jadhav said, "Every calorie counts for obese or a diabetic person. Such unaccounted for calories can cause much harm."

The law underlines strict punishment for milk suppliers whose samples are found unsafe for human consumption. Earlier when the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 was in force, FDA would file a case against a supplier in the court of law even if the sample had less amount of fat and SNF.

Now, with the new Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, the FDA officials can only fine them for such offences. A case is filed against a supplier only when the sample is found unsafe for consumption, Kekare said.

The Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, which came into effect on August 5, 2011, looks at various aspects of milk adulteration and divides them into segments like safe food, food not of the nature or substance or quality demanded, extraneous but harmless matter, misbranded items and unsafe for consumption.


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