World Milk Day: Experts Share Tips To Check Safe Dairy Products

‘Milk samples in Punjab found adulterated,’ ‘26% milk & dairy product samples found adulterated in Guwahati,’ and ‘Men held for selling adulterated milk in Hyderabad,’ are only a few headlines of the most-read digital media platforms in 2024. These reports have created fear among consumers. 

Video Credit: Food Safety And Standards Authority Of India/ YouTube

The worrying aspect is that it is not just milk that is adulterated but many vendors are selling expired food items and dishes cooked or stored in an unhygienic environment. A 2024 report published by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a public-interest research organisation in New Delhi, indicated that at least 70% of the milk samples collected across India were found to be adulterated. 

Video Credit: Food Safety And Standards Authority Of India/ YouTube

Every year, World Milk Day celebrates the significance of milk and dairy products for humans. This year Slurrp would like to shift the focus to spreading awareness around the health hazards of consuming adulterated milk and milk-based products and how to identify clean dairy produce. You will also understand how and why dairy farmers are indulging in malpractices. 

Why Are Indian Vendors Selling Contaminated Milk?

India is not only among the largest producers of milk, but owing to its large population and geographical diversity, it is also among the largest consumers of dairy. Not only is the supply around the globe huge but so is the demand. 

Speaking to Slurrp, Aman J Jain, CEO and Co-Founder, Doodhvale, said, "This issue may be subsidiary to a myriad of factors, including infrastructural deficits in the supply chain, inadequate enlightenment and information at the source, and dishonesty resulting from greed."

He added, "Small-scale dairy farmers are also not unaware of the importance of hygiene at the initial stage of milk production; hence, (knowingly/ unknowingly) they compromise on the quality."

Aman J Jain also said, “Although food safety guidelines have been established long ago, their practical use has not been free from issues. The increasing population of India especially the urbanites in tier I, II, & III cities has boosted the consumption of dairy. However, the supply has not been met with the same rate of increase in milk production. To close the gap, some people have opted to engage in unethical behaviour like diluting the milk with water, detergents, or other unconventional substances resulting in higher cases of adulteration.”

Speaking on the same subject, Ravin Saluja, Director, Sterling Agro Industries Limited( Nova Dairy Products), said, “The reasons why vendors are selling contaminated milk include, increasing their profit margins by adding water to the milk, absence of strict laws prohibiting the sale of adulterated milk, and inefficiency in the supply chain which compels them to add preservatives to the milk.”

Can Companies Meet Demand For Milk Without Supplying Adulterated Milk?

If supply-demand is causing vendors to sell contaminated milk, there should be a way to cater to this concern without risking the health of consumers. Dr Kishore Indukuri, Founder and Managing Director, Sid’s Farm, said, "Vendors should opt for sustainable practices that enhance milk yield naturally, ensuring both animal well-being and the integrity of products. Studies have shown that cows raised on natural pastures produce milk with higher levels of beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid)."

Ravin Saluja suggested, “The companies can resort to increased usage of organic fodder for their cattle that has scientifically proven to be a helpful way of increasing the output of milk, without  inducing them with hormonal injections for an increased yield.”

Impact Of Consuming Adulterated On Consumer’s Health

The reason why adulterated milk is making headlines is because it is (or can) affect the health of consumers. Dr Shrey Shrivastava, General Physician at Sharda Hospital, said, “Adulterated milk can possess serious health risks like foodborne illnesses (diarrhoea, vomiting, and stomach cramps), nutrient deficiencies, organ damage, and indirect health issues caused by antibiotic injected in animals in a large quantity.”

He shared a few common ingredients that vendors and dairy farmers are using to contaminate milk. This includes urea (causes strain in kidneys), water (reduces nutritional value), hydrogen peroxide (disrupts gut flora and causes heart problems), formalin, detergents (leads to gastrointestinal issues), oxytocin (affects kidneys, heart, and eyesight), and starch or sugar (affects diabetic patients and causes stomach-related issues). 

Tips To Buy Clean Milk And Dairy Products

Dr Shreya Srivastava, Ravin Saluja, Aman J Jain, and Dr Kishore Indukuri shared a few tips for identifying clean milk and dairy products from contaminated ones. Here are a few things consumers should look out for,

  • Check the packaging, look for the expiry date, and ensure that the product is kept in tamper-proof seals.
  • Look for quality certification and signs which will assure you that the products are organic.
  • Buy from reputed sources who have established their credibility in the market.
  • Smell and taste the raw milk. If it is not contaminated, it will possess a subtle sweet flavour and sour tinge.
  • You can purchase DIY test kits to identify if and how the milk has been contaminated. 
  • Natural tests for milk include leaving it in the open. If it curdles and turns sour, it is free from adulteration. 
  • The colour of an unadulterated milk is off-white. Add some iodine to raw milk, if it turns blue, you will know that it contains starch.
  • You must also check if the milk forms a high amount of lather, it would indicate that it is contaminated with detergent.