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Is your milk safe?: Many samples in Punjab found adulterated

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Despite having the highest per capita availability of milk in the country, the supply of milk unsafe for human consumption continues unabated in Punjab, posing health risks, especially to the children, reveals data available with the Punjab Food Safety Wing.

At least 15 per cent of milk samples collected between April 2023 and February 2024 failed the food safety test, which was nearly 35.5 per cent for the corresponding months in 2023-24, making it “unsafe for human consumption”, as per data available with the Punjab Food Safety Wing.

Out of 1,400 milk samples collected in 2022-23, 497 were found to be non-conforming for food safety, says data, adding that of the 497 samples, 10 were “unsafe” due to the presence of “foreign fat”.

For the same period, 38.9 per cent of milk product samples, too, failed the food safety test, meaning out of 1,478 milk product samples collected, 575 were found to be non-conforming for food safety. Out of 575 failed samples, 83 were found to be unsafe — either having foreign fat or substandard — due to failure in quality parameters. The paneer (cottage cheese) was low in fat and high in moisture.

Inderjit Singh, former director of the Dairy Development, Punjab, said, “Foreign fat can make milk spurious. Foreign fat \means the milk sample did not have the natural milk fats but foreign fats, which could be refined oil, vegetable oil, animal fat or any other adulteration, making it unsafe for human consumption.”

“This is happening, even as the per capita availability of milk in Punjab is 1,170 g, followed by Haryana at 970 g,” Singh added.

Between April 2023 and February 2024, out of 642 milk samples collected, 99 were found to be non-conforming to food safety. Out of these, two were found to be unsafe for human consumption.

For the same period, 30.26 per cent of milk product samples failed the food safety test — meaning out of 1,249 milk product samples, 378 were found to be non-conforming to food safety and as many as 79 were found to be unsafe for consumption. A Punjab Food Safety Wing official said these samples were “adulterated”.

“Not only these had impure milk, but several samples had dangerous chemicals, making the milk spurious, making the milk unsafe for human consumption. Some of these had water and some had lesser fat, too,” the official said.

The officials said, “Milk products like khoya and paneer had refined oil, detergent, urea and certain acids. In some samples, glucose was also added to give it a sweet taste. Last year, a racket was also busted in Punjab where detergent was found in milk, paneer and khoya samples, and the government initiated legal proceedings in such cases.”

The official said, “Adulterated milk and its products are hazardous for humans. The government started several campaigns to make people aware of it and get products tested at the food safety lab in Kharar for quality.”

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Dr RS Sethi, Dean, College of Dairy Science and Technology, Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Ludhiana, said, “Unsafe milk is worrisome. Our college had organised an awareness camp in Ludhiana a few months ago and encouraged people to get their milk samples tested. We found a considerable number of samples failing the test and informed them about the presence of chemicals and other impurities in their milk.”

Dr Sethi added, “Awareness is important. People should get their milk samples tested to ensure they are consuming milk safe for human consumption. GADVASU has developed a home-testing kit for milk. These kits are available at an affordable price at the university and are easy to use.”

Recently, a matter of “adulterated” milk being supplied to Verka Milk Plant in Mohali had come up for a hearing in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. As per the FIR registered on July 14, 2015, “adulterated” milk was being supplied to the Verka Milk Plant in Mohali and milk laced with chemicals was being supplied to the public.

The HC called it a “painful saga of unholy collusion between the police officers and a gang”, which laced milk with chemicals in Verka Milk Plant, Mohali, in 2015. The court directed the Punjab government to “place on record a copy of the status report indicating the investigation conducted so far and the action taken against the guilty police officials, as per the order passed in 2019 by the SDJM (Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate), Khamanon, district Fatehgarh Sahib”.



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