THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Close on the heels of cancer-causing toxin Aflatoxin M1(AFM1) being detected in milk samples from Kerala, the state Food Safety Commissionerate has got into damage control mode. In view of the findings, the state has decided to follow a standard protocol in cattle feed supplements and antibiotics.
The findings at the recently released National Milk Safety and Quality Survey 2018 by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), has also put the state’s dairy farmers in dismay.
Out of the 187 samples collected from the state, 37 were tested positive for AFM1 residues. The state has the third highest level of toxin after Tamil Nadu and Delhi. As per the survey, the problem is seen more in processed milk than in raw milk.
“Aflatoxins are poisonous substances produced by certain kinds of fungi. They can contaminate food crops and pose a serious health threat to humans and livestock. There are several types of aflatoxin. It is in areas where the poorest quality grain is used for animal feed that aflatoxin thrives,” said an officer of the Food Safety Department.
According to him, studies have shown that AFM1 is the most significant toxin in milk and dairy products and what makes it a public health concern is that it is stable even at high temperatures and cannot be removed from milk by the heating processes.
Issues due to the presence of aflatoxin and non-compliance for antibiotics is a serious matter. It was discussed during the meeting of the State Level Advisory Committee for Food Safety headed by the chief secretary last Saturday, said Food Safety Commissioner Rathan Kelkar. “A decision was taken to direct the Animal Husbandry Department to follow a standard protocol in cattle feed supplements and providing antibiotics to dairy cows,” he said.
According to Kelkar, the presence of aflatoxin is mainly due to cattle feed. Also, the non-compliance for antibiotics might be due to the unscientific approach being followed by the dairy farmers. “Suppose a dairy cow has some ailment, and the farmer gives it medicines. Soon, he also starts milking the cow. The resultant antibiotic residues reach humans via milk and milk products. Thus we want the Animal Husbandry Department to act,” he added.