News on Adulterated Milk

State to have laboratories to test adulterated milk: Bapat

Friday, 23/11/2018

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government may soon get laboratories to test samples of adulterated milk, Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) Minister Girish Bapat informed the Council on Thursday. The State is currently sending samples to Ghaziabad and Hyderabad, and the process of getting test results takes around six months.

In a related development, the Assembly on Thursday passed an amendment Bill, making milk, food and drug adulteration cognisable and non-bailable.

Mr. Bapat said the government had directed local corporations, including the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, to establish a ‘grahak panchayat’ for testing samples of adulterated milk. “However, that (scheme) did not take off, and in the meantime, we thought of amending the existing laws to make adulteration a crime which invites life imprisonment,” the minister said in response to a debate initiated by Congress legislator Ashok Jagtap.

The minister said adulteration has not only led to economic losses, but lives too have been lost to the business of mixing milk. This racket operates mostly after the supply vehicles cross the Octroi check posts in cities such as Pune and Mumbai. “The practice is rampant in bigger cities such as Mumbai. In October, we seized 19,250 litres of adulterated milk in Malad,” Mr. Bapat said.

Earlier, introducing a motion on the subject, Mr. Jagtap said milk is being mixed with detergent powder, soda, and glucose, which is threatening the lives of lakhs of consumers. “The government must not spare anyone who is involved in this,” he said.

The Assembly has meanwhile passed a Bill introducing amendments to the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. Now, the adulteration of milk, food, and drugs will be cognisable and non-bailable on the lines of the amendments made by Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.

With amendments in Sections 272 to 276 of the IPC, the jail term for the crime will be above six months up to life term. “It will ensure that those involved in adulteration will not get bail,” Mr. Bapat said in the Assembly.

“Thousands of people are being killed in the State and country because of adulteration. Since there are loopholes in the existing laws, culprits walk free. An offender commits a crime in the morning, but gets bail by the evening. They will now fear the amended law,” the minister said.

The statement of objects and reasons of the Bill reads that the practice of adulteration in milk and other food articles and drugs is a serious threat to health of the public.

As per the Bill, during police raids, offences of the adulterated or unsafe food and adulterated drugs are caught and an FIR is registered under Sections 272 to 276 of the IPC. “In such cases, arrest or detention of the accused is necessary for the purposes of effective investigation and collection of evidence. Since these offences under the said sections are non-cognisable and bailable, the police and food safety inspectors face difficulties in investigation. Therefore, there is an urgent need for stringent punishment for the offences under the IPC, which can equally act as a deterrent,” it said.

In a recent analysis carried out by a consumer sector NGO, it was found that around 78% of all the milk samples had fallen short of the standard quality. According to Consumer Guidance Society of India (CGSI), the milk samples — branded and non-branded — did not meet the specifications of the Food Standard and Safety Authority of India. The CGSI tested 690 (228 branded and 462 unbranded) samples collected from across the State from January to October. Of them, only 151 or 21.88% samples complied with the standards.


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