Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fear Factor – Drinking tea, coffee and milk, in the light of results from ‘National Survey on Milk Adulteration 2011’

Food Safety and Standards authority of India
Today morning, I went to a nearby hotel for breakfast. In my last four years in Bangalore, majority of my daily meals were from hotels. In the counter, two people were standing in front of me. My eyes went through the menu list pasted next to the printing machine; after having a quick look I decided on Idly.

Next to that, price for tea and coffee were also listed. I am not a big fan of tea/ coffee. Last time, I ordered a full tea. But today, seeing the entry itself created a terrible feeling. After all, only yesterday I read the result of ‘The National Survey on Milk Adulteration 2011’.

The National Survey on Milk Adulteration 2011

According to the survey - ‘to ascertain the quality of milk and identify different type of adulteration in the liquid milk throughout the country’,
1. ‘total non-conforming samples were 1226 (68.4%)’.
2. ‘non-conformity of samples in rural areas were 381 (31%)’ [Packet samples: 64 (16.7%), Loose samples: 317 (83.2%).
3. ‘In urban area, the total non confirming samples were 845 (68.9%)’ [Packet samples: 282 (33.4%), Loose samples: 563 (66.6%).
4. ‘deviations were found highest on account of Fat and SNF content in 574 samples (46.8%) of the total non–conformity, which includes 147 samples with detergent and two samples with neutralizers respectively’.
5. ‘Detergent was also found in 103 samples (8.4%). Perhaps the reason may be dilution of milk with water’.
6. ‘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. Glucose would have been added to milk probably to enhance SNF’.
7. ‘The presence of Skim Milk Powder indicates the reconstitution of milk powder’.

If I summarize,

1. 68.4% of milk is not fine for human consumption.
2. Apart from water, detergents are also present in milk.
3. People are adding milk powder.
4. Neutralizers are also present in the milk.


This issue is not limited to any single part of India. Survey was carried out by five regional offices of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in 33 states; sample size was 1791.

Moral Issues

After having breakfast, I walked towards a supermarket located some 200 meters away. Young man of around 30-32 years old was walking in the opposite direction. I could see half litre milk packet, inside a partially transparent plastic bag he was carrying. He may have a kid of 2-3 years old. It is also possible that the kid may drink this milk as well– which may contain detergents and other things.

We are buying milk (any other item for that matter) with the belief that, other side will play fair. Moreover, everybody can’t have a cow at their home.


It is a known fact that a good percentage of milk selling in India is not adhering to the highest standards, people made water as the twin brother of milk long time back; but detergents? adding milk powder?

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) conducted a survey and enlightened the people. Good thing, but who will take action against the entities contaminating milk? Simply conducting an ‘ease of doing business survey’ will not increase the ease to do business. It should be firmly backed by action at ground level. Here, if I am not wrong, independent India always had food inspectors, regulators etc. Even this ‘Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)’ was not created yesterday. Still this is the situation.

It is important for government and its various arms to make sure the security of her citizens. Providing security is not limited to protecting borders or conducting income tax raids, it also includes the protection of consumer and sanity of market place.



1. Executive summary on ‘National Survey on Milk Adulteration 2011 – Food Safety and Standards authority of India, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India

Photo Courtesy: Food Safety and Standards authority of India, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India

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