Milk adulteration in India remains rampant

About 30 per cent of the milk sold in India is adulterated, results from government testing has revealed.

A total of 7,717 samples were collected during 2016-2017 and analysed by the state food safety department, which discovered that of those samples, 2,307 were ‘non-conforming’ or adulterated, representing 30 per cent of the samples, a report by The New Indian Express said, which published the findings.

Mixing water into the milk, which has the effect of increasing volume but decreasing nutritional value, was found to be the most common adulteration of the samples testing. Officials noted that if the water was contaminated with bacteria or chemicals this could have severe health consequences for consumers.

Officials also found milk adulterated with detergent, foreign fat, starch, sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), sugar, colour and urea.

Meanwhile, another drive to inspect milk samples across Delhi in underway, according to

India is one of the world’s largest producers of milk, with an estimated 165.4 million metric tonnes produced in 2016-17, while demand is expected to rise to about 220 million metric tonnes by 2022.   

 Reports from the Karnataka Food Safety Commissionerate suggest that milk is the most adulterated food commodity in India, followed by tea powder and spices.

Adulteration of milk in India has been a concern for some time as demand increases putting pressure on supply.

Food safety campaigners believe the milk adulteration figure is just the tip of the iceberg, claiming that the illicit practice is much more widespread and that adulteration levels are likely to be much higher.

A 2012 study by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India found that more than two-thirds of Indian milk was adulterated with salt, detergent and other substances.

Last year, a feud broke out between private dairy companies in India and a government minister who had publicly claimed the private dairy companies were lacing their milk with cancer-causing toxic substances including caustic soda, bleaching powder and formaldehyde. 

The comments were reportedly based on an investigation and lab tests, but the allegations were denied by the private milk companies, who have since gone to court to seek compensation for the “baseless statements and accusations” that had a grave impact on the products and credibility of the private dairy companies.

India is attempting to crackdown on food fraud in the country, introducing a number of initiatives from mobile food testing stations and quality milk certifications to proposals to increase penalties for culprits.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India recently announced that Hyderabad-based Vimta Labs had been assigned to conduct this year’s nationwide milk quality surveillance.

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