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The silent saboteur: Unveiling the dark side of adulterated milk

The greatest agricultural product in India is dairy, which supports millions of farmers nationwide and accounts for 5 per cent of the country’s GDP. Interestingly, India is the world’s largest producer of milk, accounting for almost 23 per cent of the world’s total production. India also exports dairy products worth more than $200 million to other countries.

However, sadly, milk adulteration is a significant concern in India, with reports of unscrupulous practices such as dilution with water, contamination with detergents, and even addition of harmful chemicals. This poses serious health risks to consumers and challenges the integrity of the country’s dairy industry, warranting stringent regulations and enforcement measures.

Milk adulteration in India

It’s critical to comprehend why milk adulteration is still a major problem in India. The primary reasons are as follows:

1) Big gap in demand and supply. Cattle produce is not sufficient for the demand.

2) Next is the lack of scientific methods for maintaining cattle.

3) Lack of hygiene and then lack of proper storage methodology results in an increased propensity for wastage, therefore inadvertently promoting the usage of adulterants.

4) Additionally, people’s greed to extract maximum value makes them use unethical practices like giving hormone injections to cattle to increase their productivity.

5) Lack of proper testing laboratory methods and still using organoleptic testing is a major concern. This is a manual procedure where a milk grader determines the aroma and taste of the milk to manually determine the presence of any foreign item. Milk is taken from numerous sources and pooled together in a big vessel after this basic quality test. Adulterations are diluted as a result, making them more difficult to detect later. This is typically where tainted milk enters the supply chain.

The gathered milk is transported to large cooling facilities where it is examined for adulteration and nutritional content. If adulteration is found, hundreds of litres of milk are wasted, resulting in significant food waste. However, because of a lack of adequate lab testing methodologies, and dilution of adulterants, they are not picked up by routine lab tests.

Through this procedure, the tainted milk advances through the supply chain to the processing facilities, where it eventually finds its way to us, the customers. Milk is a crucial component of the Indian diet, with both adults and children consuming large amounts of it as a drink nationwide. The same milk is used to prepare products like Dahi, Paneer, Khoya, Butter, and Sweets that are very fondly consumed, creating a multi-fold problem. Therefore, tainted milk is easily introduced into our diets and contributes to a host of health problems.

Negative effects of milk adulteration and contamination

Since milk is consumed every day, there is always a huge demand for the product. And during festivals, it surges. As a result, handling the supply side of it is difficult. When providers attempt to close this demand-supply mismatch while still making excessive profits, adulteration typically occurs.

The perishable nature of milk, flaws in quality assurance, and the cost of the completed product are additional variables that allow unethical people to take advantage of the public. Major health problems may result from this exploitation. In general, regular use of milk that has been tainted or falsified might result in:

– Organ malfunctioning

– Heart-related problems

– Cancer

– Poor vision

– Kidney problems

– Children’s asthma issues and an increase in hyperactivity are also linked to adulterants like salicylic acid and benzoic acid.

– Additionally, kidney and gastrointestinal problems are brought on by it. The kidneys are overworked, and renal failure may result. It may irritate the digestive tract, resulting in nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.


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