Is the milk you are having safe? Here’s what you need to know
Before you plan to gorge on mithai this festival season, consider a shocking fact. Two out of every three Indians drink milk adulterated with detergent, caustic soda, urea and paint. That’s what Union Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan had told the Lok Sabha in 2016. He was quoting a nationwide survey conducted by FSSAI, India’s food regulator. Recently, an Animal Welfare Board report revealed that 68.7 per cent of the milk production in the country, along with milk by-products, was found to be laced with polluted ingredients.
Why is so much milk adulterated?
Increased demand for milk products during the festival season leads to rampant adulteration. Since milk and milk products constitute such a huge market, adulteration is an easy way to make money for many people. It cuts production costs and boosts profit margins. Last month, the crime branch of the Pune police seized 4,852 kg of adulterated khoya, a dairy product used for making a variety of sweets, from a bus. While adulteration peaks during the festival season, the huge milk economy of India ensures that adulteration is an easy money-making opportunity round the year.
How is milk adulterated?
Though water remains the most common milk adulterant, increasingly detergent, caustic soda, glucose, white paint and refined oil are being used to adulterate milk. Water thins the milk but other adulterants make it appear thick. Adulterants like salt, detergents and glucose add to the thickness and viscosity of the diluted milk while starch prevents its curdling. So non-water adulterants make it difficult for a consumer to suspect that the milk is difficult for a consumer to suspect that the milk is diluted or adulterated.
Dangers of adulterated milk
Adulterated milk can impair the functioning of various organs of the body, causing heart problems, cancer, and in extreme cases, even death. According to a recent advisory issued by the World Health Organisation, if adulteration isn’t put to a stop, a large chunk of India’s population would be suffering from serious and fatal diseases like cancer by the end of 2025.
What to do?
It’s 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. Although a little pricey, these kits are helpful to use. These days premium and organic milk is also available. Many start-ups have appeared in big cities which provide such milk at nearly double the price of ordinary milk.
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