By Nakul Arora:
When a person goes out to buy a product, they almost never think of the possibility of the product being counterfeit or fake, the possibility might even prop up in one’s head if it’s a luxury or FMCG product but, for a food product, one almost never thinks to the extent of it being adulterated. However, the degradation in the moral ethics of today’s world has clearly affected our food product producers as well and leading the pack is the dairy debacle: Mixing of synthetic products to make dairy products. Now, in a country like ours, this gains much importance, for the consumption of dairy products is so highly prevalent in our society. India is the top producer of milk in the world, a result of the white revolution of IDDB (Indian Dairy Development Board) in the 70’s. However, the paradox here is the fact that India is also the first country where synthetic milk was produced. Synthetic milk is the most common form of adulteration and since milk is a major component of any dairy product, thus, its effects spread out. So, what exactly is synthetic milk and why is it raking up such a big issue for haven’t we Indians already got a plentiful of issues like corruption, bad governance, religion to deal with. It’s really important, for today, the one thing that surely signifies unity amongst all of India’s diversity is the simple fact that all of us are drinking or have drunk synthetic milk at some point in our lives. Only 25% of the milk being produced in India is coming from cows and buffaloes, the rest all is coming out of the scientific “jugaad” of our milkman and for the data-lovers, its production and sale is approximately 1.1 crore litre everyday.
Synthetic milk is milk produced by mixing of synthetic products like caustic soda, urea, cheap cooking/refined oil and detergents. It was first made by milkmen in Kurukshetra region in Haryana and has since then spread out to all over the country. Detergent is used as an emulsifier and it helps in dissolving the oil in water to give it the frothy like look and white-cream colour of milk. Caustic soda is added to neutralize acidity and cooking oil fills in for the absent natural milk fat. Urea is also added for solid-not-fat (SNF) and it is blended with some portions of natural milk so as to improve its taste. Thus, the product that we get is a properly thought out and carefully produced synthetic product, much like our soaps and shampoos. Also, many milkmen generally add synthetic products to their de-toned (devoid of any cream and fat) milk to make it creamy and foggy again, so that the consumer won’t notice the difference. Chalk and calcium soil have been reported to be used by the milk vendors in order to increase the quantity of the milk (as if putting water into milk wasn’t enough).
Synthetic milk is known to have cancerous properties and the presence of urea and caustic soda increase the risk for people suffering from heart ailments and also for pregnant women. Children are the biggest sufferers in this for their body’s immune system slowly degrades at an early age. Also, the sodium being passed onto the body through this acts as a slow poison. There are many more negative impacts of its usage but discussing them would get us nowhere. We have to look for ways to get out of this situation that is slowly grappling the dairy industry of our country. Also, the people who are under the false assumption that drinking packaged milk is safe should take into note the fact that recently, a report in a newspaper claimed having evidence that reveals that milk mafias tamper on a regular basis with the seals of the milk tankers before they reach their scheduled milk lending outlets. Thus, whole tankers of milk are contaminated with prepared solutions of adulterated milk after due amount of real milk is taken out of them. Also, it has been reported that even after complaints were filed in this area, the police didn’t take any action (nothing new or unexpected by the police there, right?).
Now, let’s discuss on the following two points: who is to blame for this debacle in the first place and what are the possible solutions of this (if any): The blame can be placed on a policy change by the government wherein the dairy sector was de-licensed and under the MMPO (milk and milk products order of 1992), it was made mandatory by the government for dairies with daily capacity of more than 10000 litres to get registered. However, it was further raised to 75,000 litres of milk later which has led to a mushrooming of thousands of smaller units which are outside regulatory supervision. The possible solutions are a nationwide awareness campaign against this evil and also, teaching people the easy way of differentiating between adulterated and natural milk. Since, this is something that includes their own health, so the people would definitely pay heed and perform the tests which will prevent their milk-vendors from supplying synthetic milk. Also, the Food adulteration should be strictly implemented and the offenders should be accorded with heavy punishment so as to ensure that those playing with the lives of millions learn their lesson well. Lastly, good education that imparts moral and ethical values to children is the only long-term solution that can totally eradicate this and other such evils borne out of materialism.