Friday, January 13, 2012


India is a great country, it is an economic power and it is a top agri-horticultural produce raising country. True at a macrolevel but at the disaggregated level India is a country no better than any sub-Saharan African country with poverty, malnutrition, under nutrition, hunger, child mortality and other vital parameters making the society at large a just surviving category. Look at the recent report by no less than an Authority, FSSAI at Delhi overseeing food safety management in the country which claimed that most Indians are drinking adulterated and unsafe Milk! This statement is touted around shamelessly as a great service by this very agency which is supposed to protect the citizens from such malicious foods! There is no word as to what it is going to do next after re-discovering a "truth" which was known all over the world. Probably more surveys and more wastage of public funds. That the adulteration and fraudulent industry that churn out such dangerous foods does not spare even children who are supposed to take milk regularly for their early stage development is a sad commentary on the seriousness of purpose on the part of the government.

"A national survey on milk adulteration in 2011 has found almost 69 per cent samples failing the quality test and have found with adulteration of water and skimmed milk powder, besides also detergents. The survey, conducted by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India to ascertain the quality of milk and find adulteration types, found all the milk samples taken from Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Daman and Diu, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal and Mizoram failed the quality test. Testing of milk samples from Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal also found non-conforming due to the presence of detergents. Over eight per cent of samples tested were found containing detergents. Presence of sodium chloride was detected in a milk sample taken in Assam, while two samples taken in Nagaland saw presence of Neutralizers, six samples in Mizoram and a sample in Tripura saw presence of SNF and Skim Milk Powder. The study indicates that addition of water to milk is the most common adulterant, which not only reduces the nutritional value of milk but contaminated water may also pose a health risk. The survey also shows that powdered milk is reconstituted to meet the demand of milk supply. The second highest parameter of non conformity was the Skim Milk Powder (SMP) in 548 samples (44.69%) which includes presence of glucose in 477 samples and Glucose is added to milk probably to enhance SNF. The study also indicated the presence of detergent in 103 samples (8.4%)". 

An issue of great concern is whether same applies to other foods including staples. Edible oil products price of which has breached the three figure mark in the retail market in recent days is a "fraudster's delight" because of the margin of profit that can be gained for adulterating the cooking oils which are used in the preparation of many ethnic foods. Similarly pulses which also command high prices are another attractive commodity vying for the attention of food adulteration industry, assured of high margins. The moot question is why not money hungry people with high entrepreneurial talents should not use these avenues for amassing their wealth with practically no risk at all because the safety enforcement authorities rarely punish a culprit even for deadly crimes under the food safety laws of the country.


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