Cancer-causing toxin found in packaged milk in TN, Delhi, Kerala and Hyderabad?

The survey was conducted over six months last year in over 1,000 towns and cities covering all states and Union Territories by an independent agency.

Published: 19th October 2019 10:05 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th October 2019 01:33 PM   |  A+A-

About 93% of the total 6,432 milk samples tested nationwide were found safe for human consumption. (File | P Jawahar, EPS)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  First the bad news. If adulteration of packaged milk delivered daily is your biggest worry, think again. You ought to be more concerned over its possible contamination due to Aflatoxin M1, a toxin that is carcinogenic, and antibiotic residues. Samples lifted from Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Kerala last year had the highest levels of carcinogenic Aflatoxin M1 residues, according to the largest quality survey across India conducted by the apex food safety regulator. In about 6% of the samples, the presence of Aflatoxin M1 residues was found beyond permissible limits.

Aflatoxin M1 comes in through feed and fodder, which are currently not regulated in India. The Aflatoxin M1 contamination is more pronounced in processed milk rather the raw milk. But don’t choke on your morning coffee as there is enough good news as well. About 93 per cent of the total 6,432 samples tested nationwide were found safe for human consumption. It’s a different matter that about 41 per cent of the samples, though safe, fell short of one or the other quality parameter, the “National Milk Safety and Quality Survey 2018” carried out by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said.

The survey was conducted over six months last year in over 1,000 towns and cities covering all states and Union Territories by an independent agency. Both raw and processed samples were found non-compliant on norms for low fat or low solid non-fat (SNF) or both. “Cattle must be properly fed and good farm practices must be adopted to improve the amount of fat and SNF in milk,” a statement by the FSSAI said, adding non-compliance on these parameters could lower the quality of raw milk. Of course,  diluting milk with water, too, reduces its quality.

Of the adulterated samples, 12 were found unfit for human consumption — six had hydrogen peroxide, three detergents, two urea and one had neutralizers. Nine of the 12 adulterated samples were from Telangana, two from Madhya Pradesh and one from Kerala. No sample had boric acid and nitrates, the other two possible adulterants. “While there is concern, this dispels the widespread perception that liquid milk in the country is largely adulterated,” the regulator underscored.


Half of the milk sold in Telangana does not comply with the standards set by FSSAI. The milk survey reports that 108 of the 238 milk samples collected from the state were found to be non-compliant only due to poor quality, of which 41 were packaged milk samples. Of the 108 poor quality milk samples, the highest number (87) were due to low levels of SNF (solids not fat), which is an important nutrient portion in milk apart from milk fat and water. It consists of proteins, carbohydrates and minerals.Also, 29 were found to be low on fat, 17 were found to have added sugar in them and 14 had Maltodextrin.

Report card

  • Top three states with Aflatoxin M1 residues 
  • Tamil Nadu (88 on 551 samples)
  • Delhi (38 on 262 samples) 
  • Kerala (37 on 187 samples)
  • 456 samples(7% of overall sample size) had contaminants that make milk unsafe for consumption
  • Top three states with antibiotics residues are Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh
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