Strict action is the only deterrence

Strict action is the only deterrence

Milk adulteration

Strict action is the only deterrence

With Supreme Court favouring life imprisonment to people indulging in production and marketing of adulterated milk, the much-talked about menace in the City has come to the fore once again.

Though the Apex Court has urged State Governments to consider making the necessary amendments to the Food Safety and Standards Act taking milk adulteration into consideration, its implementation, as well as, supply of quality milk and milk products to the citizens still remains a big question.

 “There are so many loopholes in the Food Safety and Standards Act that it is possible to give life imprisonment. Basically, it is in the favour of adulterators who can be easily acquitted. They only have to pay a fine,” says a former Chief Public Prosecutor with the Directorate of Prevention of Food Adulteration. 

Preferring anonymity, he says, “It is always difficult to prove that milk or any food item is unsafe as it is very easy to change the final reports prepared by a Government or a private lab. Adulterators pay bribe and some fine, and they are left free. It has happened in the past and is still going on.” 

Speaking about milk adulteration in the City, the prosecutor points at the fluctuations in demand and supply of milk. “We all know Delhi is not a milk-producing State. It depends upon the neighbouring State to cater to Delhi’s demand. So, in a City where there are so many weddings and programmes each day, ever wondered how the demand is being fulfilled? Allegedly, it is the adulterated milk which is being supplied by neighbouring cities without any prohibition.”

But Mohan Singh Ahluwalia, national president, gwala gaddi (milk association) points out that the adulteration is carried out by local milkmen and dealers too. “Ninety per cent of the milk and its product like paneer and dahi supplied in Delhi, NCR including Gurgaon, Noida and Faridabad is adulterated,” says Mohan.

Mentioning about Azadapur Mandi and Tilak market, he says, “Ask for paneer in the mandi and the shopkeeper will instantly ask, you want number one or two. Number two is usually adulterated which has urea and detergent in it. Similarly in Tilak market, you will get milk which is allegedly adulterated with powdered white marble. Even the local brands are adulterated.”

For the increasing menace of adulterated milk items, Mohan Singh holds food inspectors and adulterators responsible,  who he alleges are hand in glove with each other. “Before favouring life imprisonment, the Government should take stringent action against the food inspectors who are filling their bank accounts by putting public health and life at stake.”

On the other hand, dismissing the claims that the City is facing the problem of adulterated milk supply, Dr B S Beniwal, general manager, Delhi Milk Scheme says, “In Delhi, milk adulteration is not a problem because people are particular about their health so they opt for quality milk and products.”

DMS which depends on State Dairy Federations of the neighbouring States and co-operative societies to augment the supply, occupies only six to seven per cent of the total milk market in Delhi. “Initially in the past we have rejected the supply from some of the societies who failed to clear the test,” he says.

Dr Beniwal takes pains to clarify that milk is not always adulterated but could be ‘non-conforming’ too. “A ‘non-conforming sample’ cannot be considered as adulterated. They both are different. By ‘non-conforming’ it is meant the sample is either not fresh or has nutrient content less than the standard limit,” says Beniwal.

Obviously, an easy way to dilute the act of adulterators.

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