CHENNAI: Amid the ongoing political controversy over the quality of milk sold by private players in the State, here is confirmation from a credible organisation that adulteration does happen across India, including in Tamil Nadu. Samples lifted as part of the national milk quality survey by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) show that a fifth of them contain adulterants, some of which could have adverse impacts on health.
But there was a difference in the survey’s target group. While the current controversy revolves around private branded milk packs, the FSSAI didn’t go after them. They lifted samples from small distributors in towns and villagers who supply ‘fresh milk’ at the doorstep.
Of 102 samples collected from Tamil Nadu, 22 were substandard. In fact, two samples from Tiruchy region tested positive for detergent. The surveillance survey, done in November last, came after a gap of five years. The results, released recently, show that 22 samples in Tamil Nadu were substandard. “Two of them, which had detergent, were unsafe for human consumption,” a food safety department official told Express.
However, though over 20 per cent of the samples across the country were substandard, the department had limitations in initiating action, as it was a surveillance survey. “We cannot hope to get them penalised by a court based on the surveillance survey,” explained the official.
Who failed the test?
A food safety department official refused to name the companies that failed the quality test during the surveillance survey, but said samples mostly lifted from small-scale milk distributors in villages were found deficient in quality. When asked about testing State-owned Aavin, too, the official said no samples were lifted from the milk cooperative
Hence, the department lifted two more samples from the same small-scale milk distributors from Manapparai and Tiruchy. During the surveillance survey, samples from Tiruchy had shown the presence of detergent, while that from Manapparai also contained a chemical neutraliser, said another official.
“But, in a resampling test, the one from Tiruchy Corporation limit showed satisfactory quality, while the milk sample from Manapparai was substandard. A case has been filed in a court against that unit,” the official added.
However, the official refused to name the companies that failed the quality test during the surveillance survey, but said samples mostly lifted from small-scale milk distributors in villages were found deficient in quality.
“We found excess water and reduced fat content in 22 samples. Detergent is added for longer shelf life and also to give a thick consistency to the milk,” the official added.
When asked about testing State-owned Aavin, too, the official said no samples were lifted from the milk cooperative.
The national milk quality survey was carried out to assess the quality of milk with a focus on unsafe and adulterated milk.
The samples were tested for fat and solids-not-fat (SNF), vegetable oil, detergent, hydrogen peroxide, formalin, sugar, glucose, urea, starch, boric acid, ammonium sulphate, nitrates and cellulose maltodextrin. When asked about other adulterants, the official said, “Not in Tamil Nadu, but in other states, chemicals like hydrogen peroxide, formalin, acid and urea were found in samples.”