Beware! The milk you buy may not be safe enough

Neutralizers like baking soda are added to milk to make it last longer, which might turn harmful in the long run. Pic: Shree D N


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Do you ever bother about the quality of milk you consume every day in various forms? If not, be careful. Six out of eight major brands among the milk sold in Bengaluru have been proved to be of substandard quality.

During a BBMP council meeting held on September 30, 2013, Corporator S Harish submitted an astounding report on the eight milk brands distributed in the city.

However buyers of Nandini (a product of Karnataka Milk Federation – KMF) and Thirumala toned milk needn’t worry. Reports gave a clean chit to Nandini and and Tirumala. Some parameters pf rest of the brands – Prakruthi, Vamsi, Shiva Shakthi, Arokya, Milky Way and Aamolya toned milk – did not seem to be falling within the standards recommended by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

Mahalakshmipuram Councillor S Harish says that these brands come to Bangalore from the outskirts of the city or far off places like Tamil nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

Helping milk last long by adding chemicals

The samples of milk analysed by Harish and team were collected from Bangalore market area. Five samples -Nandini toned milk, Prakruthi, Vamsi, Shiva Shakthi and Arokya toned milk – weighed 500 ml while three others – Tirumala, Milk Way and Aamolya – weighed 250 ml.

They were tested at National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) on September 23, 2013.

After processing, that is pasteurisation, milk can survive maximum two days. Milk should be consumed within 24 hours. Since daries of most of these brands operate at far-flung places, by the time it reaches the end user, almost a day is over. To preserve the milk for a long time, various chemicals are used as preservatives.

Tests done on Vamsi, Milky way, Aamolya, Prakruthi and Shiva Shakthi show that the acidity and fat level are far below the standards recommended by FSSAI.

Acidity level can plunge to this level only through chemicals. These chemicals are used for two reasons: To make the milk look thick and to preserve it for a longer period.

To thicken the milk, gum powder, starch, sugar etc.are used, while to help the milk last longer and to ensure it doesn’t curdle while boiling, they make use of neutralisers such as baking soda, caustic soda or hydrogen peroxide.

The older the milk, higher will be the acidity. Therefore to preserve milk for a longer period of time, these companies use neutralizers.

As per the FSSAI standards, milk should have no neutralizer. However, the test revealed the presence of neutralizers in five milk samples.

Same price, less weight

The brands tested were also under-weight, when compared to Nandini brand. The standard weight and volume of toned milk is prescribed to be at 518 g for 500 ml. 3% decrease in the weight and 3.2% decrease in the volume was observed in some of the brands during the test.

Adultrated Milk Brands

Parameters

As per standard

Prakruthi

Vamsi

Shiva Shakthi

Milky Way (250 ml)

Aamolya

Arokya

Weight

518g/ 260g

501

516

515

260

249

514

Volume

500 ml/250 ml

484

498

497

251

242

496

Acidity

0.144 to 0.162

0.117

0.09

0.117

0.072

0.081

0.144

CLR

29.5

28.5

29

20

30

26.5

33.5

Fat

3.1

3

2.7

2.8

1.6

1.4

1.5

SNF

8.5

8.30

8.28

8.55

8.25

7.33

9.10

Starch test

Negative

Negative

Negative

Negative

Negative

Negative

Positive

Neutralizer

Negative

Positive

Positive

Positive

Positive

Positive

Negative

CLR = Calculated lacto Rate

SNF = Solid Non Fat

Unadulterated milk brands

Parameters

As per standard

Thirumala
(250 ml)

Nandini

Weight

518gl/260g

269

534

Volume

500ml/ 250ml

260

516

Acidity

0.144 to 0.162

0.144

0.177

CLR

29.5

30

28.5

Fat

3.1

1.6

3

SNF

8.5

8.25

8.30

Starch test

Negative

Negative

Negative

Neutralizer

Negative

Negative

Negative

Only long term effect

Gastric problems are one of the common problems caused due to consumption of adulterated milk. These chemicals harm the tender inner line of the intestine. This injures the digestive system.

There are no immediate effects of consuming adulterated milk but it takes its own time. Indian Council of Medical Research reported that long term use of  adulterated milk can also cause kidney failure or heart problems. or even death.

Patients suffering from blood pressure should avoid sodium. Consumption of milk with neutraliser may have an adverse effect on such patients.  

Bangalore-based nutritionist Sheela Krishnaswamy believes that cardiac issues from adulteration is unlikely. However “Milk adulteration can have an effect on the stomach or cause food poisoning, she says,” she says.

Milk is supposed to be slightly acidic, “if a neutraliser is added in the form of an alkali, this can cause damage to the tissues.  Sodium can increase the risk of high blood pressure.  If baking soda is used as an adulterant, over a period of time it can reduce the absorption of calcium,” says Sheela.

Veterinarian  G N S Reddy is the founder of the first dairy to produce organic milk involving farmers in the State, Akshayakalpa. He believes that adulterations can take place at any point of production. It may occur at the root level i.e farmers, intermediate level i.e. milk collection centres or final, processing centers.

He says, “There are no methods at present with these agencies to control quality of milk at the point of production.” Sometimes absence of refrigerators to transport milk to distant places force sellers to add chemicals to milk.

He believes that the samples should also be tested for bacteria, as high incidence of harmful bacteria like coliforms can be of great public health importance.

What after the report?

The reports were submitted to Mayor B S Satyanarayana and BBMP Commissioner M. Lakshminarayan.

Lakshminarayan had taken a note of this and said, “I will write a letter to Food and Civil Supplies Department and ask Health Inspectors to form a report on this.”

When contacted, Bommanahalli BBMP Health Officer Dr. Suresh claimed to have not received any complaints against these brands, and therefore did not take any action against them.

Related Articles

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A quick guide to detecting adulteration


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About Nikita Malusare 109 Articles
Nikita Malusare was a Staff Journalist at Citizen Matters.

5 Comments

  1. I was very apprehensive after the last TOI article on adulterated milk. We’ve been having Gowardhan milk for as long as I can remember. So for a while we shifted to a loose milk, which kirana stores keep and it was bad, it didn’t taste like milk and was really watery. So we switched back to Gowardhan Gold and I really do trust them as a brand. Parag milk foods has always been a trusted company.

  2. Its impossible to provide for such a large human population (tea, coffee, sweets and of course all the ‘bathing the god idols’ in milk, smearing them with butter ….. so much demand ). with pure milk by simply milking the cows that exist – either the chemicals mixed externally or hormones pumped into the cows will only make up for the difference in cow:milk:human population ratios. get your own cow if you really want all the goodness of milk OR say no to milk or milk products – let the calves get their mother’s milk to drink.

  3. Thanks to Harsh and team for bringing this all this Hard work. However can someone tell me why milk is sold at MRP+2 rs per pack in Bangalore. I found this in each and every shop here in Bangalore. If you try to make them understand concept of MRP, shopkeepers just misbehave. I wonder why government is not taking any action where necessities like milk are being sold at an additional cost of 4 rs /liter. It may look a small amount but in percentage its really high… Also can someone help me in getting the numbers where I can complaint against Nandini booth distributor, as the numbers given on nandini milk packs are never working..

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