Milk is one of the most staple foods consumed by our country. However, the issues with adulteration are real. Not only adulteration, but the problem is also with the pesticides entering the whole chain of the cattle fodder and, in turn, the milk we consume. However, FSSAI recently conducted a National Milk Quality Survey, 2018 which revealed that Milk in India is largely safe although quality issues persist. The study explains how surprisingly adulteration is not that much of a problem as much as the pesticides entering the food chain is. National Milk Day 2018: Almond Milk, Quinoa Milk+ 4 Other Healthy Non-Dairy Substitute of Milk for Lactose Intolerants and Vegans.
Take a Look at The Key Findings of the Survey-
1) Milk in India is largely free from adulterants that render it unsafe for consumption. Merely 12 (out of a total of 6,432) samples had adulterants that affect the safety of milk. The occurrence of such adulterants is insignificant considering the sample size in the survey.
2) This is the first survey that analyzed contaminants including residues of pesticides, antibiotics, Aflatoxin and Ammonium sulphate in milk. Less than 10% (638 out of 6,432 samples) had contaminants that make milk unsafe for consumption as per the survey. In all these cases, milk is getting contaminated due to the poor quality of feed, irresponsible use of antibiotics and poor farm practices. Further, the quantitative analysis suggests that this problem is not serious. It is restricted to a few pockets and in some States. Hence, the country would be able to address this concern by targeted awareness-building activities and monitoring of primary production over a period of time.
3) There is no concern at all due to pesticides residues. Only 1.2% of the samples failed on account of antibiotics residues above tolerance level and it was mainly due to oxytetracycline used to treat animals with bovine mastitis.
4) Aflatoxin M1 was detected in 368 (out of 6,432 samples), that is 5.7% of the samples had Aflatoxin at levels above the permissible limit. The occurrence of Aflatoxin does not amount to willful adulteration, but is directly related to feeding quality and has to bear on human health.
5) Ammonium sulphate was detected in 195 (out of 6,432 samples), that is 3 % samples of milk. Ammonium compounds including ammonium sulphate are reportedly added to feed to enhance protein intake of animals. Current, FSSAI regulations do not prescribe any limits for ammonium sulphate in milk. Further, the study is required to verify natural levels of ammonia and its sulphate in milk and fixing tolerance limits, if any for the same.
6) The milk was tested for levels of fat and SNF in this survey against limits of fat and SNF for various types of milk. It is noted that as many as 1261 (19.6%) of the samples did not meet the limit set for SNF. In another 218 samples (3.4%) of the total, Sugar and Maltodextrin were found to be added. Sugar and Maltodextrin are sometimes added to raise the level of SNF. While, there may not be any public health issues, however, the addition of Sugar, Maltodextrin is to be discouraged completely. Overall 2505 samples (39% of the total) did not meet quality parameters.
7) The survey found that non-compliance on Fat and SNF quality parameters is higher in raw milk than in processed milk, but on added Sugar and Maltodextrin, non-compliance is mostly in processed milk. Unlike non-compliance on safety parameters, non-compliance on account of quality parameters is across all States / UTs, even though the extent of such non-compliance varies.
8) As far as raw milk is concerned, it must be stated that this could be either due to breed of cattle, its feed and rearing practices or due to dilution of milk with water. Addition of water in itself is not a safety issue unless there is concern about the quality of water added that calls for detailed microbiological examination. Since, in most cases, liquid milk is boiled and then consumed, public health risk due to microbiological contamination is minimal.
Non-compliance on quality parameters in processed milk is quite large, even though it is lower than raw milk. This is a matter of concern and needs to be addressed through various measures. A high percentage of non-compliance samples, however, does not suggest that the proportionate volume of processed milk is non-compliant, since samples are not adjusted by the capacity of milk processing plants. It is likely that a large number of samples are taken from numerous smaller milk processing plants.