Festive time, a time to celebrate, a time to reunite, and, a time to share moments of happiness and joy with family and friends!! It is a time to have a sweet excuse from the demanding and tiring monotonous life, breakaway that sourness and, of course, to gorge and indulge in some of our favourite ‘Sugary’ treats. Ah! those yummy ‘Milk Cakes’, ‘Khoye Ki Barfi’,‘Rabdi’, ‘Dahi-Jalebi’, and what not!!Indian cuisine is a treasure -island for ‘sweet lovers’. Sweet shops and vendors are always crowded with these buffs during festivities. It is the best time for the sellers to make money, and, beware: although strictly restricted, for some of them, even by hook or by crook!!
In this festive time, there is a sharp surge on the demand for Milk to prepare these delicacies. Sometimes, it becomes difficult for milk suppliers to fulfil this upsurge. Hence, some crooks have come up with a ‘dangerous’ and a ‘hazardous’, but an easy and an inexpensive solution for meeting with the demand. They don’t have any hesitation or conscience before playing with the lives of innocent consumers. The ‘milk’ which is widely used in making various sweets, is sometimes, NOT MILK at all, but a mixture of DETERGENT, SOAP, SHAMPOO, and many other Chemicals. SHOCKED?? Yes, quite shocking, but, a bitter truth!!
The sweets which we have been consuming fondly since ages, are no longer safe and trust-worthy to consume, or to gift our loved ones!! Over 68 per cent of milk in the country does not conform to standards laid down by the food regulator, and the most common adulterants found in it, are detergent, caustic soda, glucose, white paint and refined oil considered “very hazardous” which could cause serious ailments.
As per the report of “Executive Summary on National Survey on Milk Adulteration, 2011″ released by Foods Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), at the national level, 68.4 per cent of milk being sold is adulterated and that, the worst performers are Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, West Bengal, Mizoram, Jharkhand and Daman and Diu, where adulteration in milk was found up to 100 per cent. In Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, 88 percent of milk samples were found adulterated. The survey, which was conducted to check the contaminants in milk, especially liquid milk, throughout the country, found lack of hygiene and sanitation in milk handling and packaging. Detergents (used during cleaning operations) were not washed properly and found their way into the milk. It came to conclusion that besides water, other contaminants like urea, starch, glucose, formalin, refined Oil, Shampoo along with detergent are used as adulterants. These adulterants are used to increase the thickness and viscosity of the milk as well as to preserve it for a longer period. The study noted that the consumption of milk with detergents is hazardous to health. It showed that adulterants like salt, detergents and glucose add to the thickness and viscosity of the milk, while starch prevents curdling of milk.
These adulterants are hazardous and cause irreversible damage to the organs. The Indian Council of Medical Research in an earlier report had mentioned that detergents in milk caused food poisoning and gastrointestinal complications. The other synthetic compounds cause impairments, heart problems, cancer and, even death. The immediate effect of drinking adulterated milk with urea, caustic soda and formalin is gastroenteritis, but the long-term effects are known to be far more serious.
When asked about the reason of adding such hazardous contaminants in the milk, the culprits accepted and acknowledged that putting impurities in the milk could prove dangerous, fatal and even deadly. When asked if they would give this ‘milk’ to their family members, the response came out as a straight ‘No’ from their side as they knew that how unsafe it was to have that ‘milk’. They told that they do it to earn quick and easy money. ‘Halwais’ and Vendors push them to fulfil the ‘demand of supply’, which becomes difficult at the time of festivals due to milk shortage. Moreover, preparation and supply of adulterated milk cost them much lesser than ‘Real Milk’.
In August, this year, Honourable Supreme Court directed the central government to consider to suitably amend the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and the Indian Penal Code to incorporate penal provisions making adulteration of milk with chemicals – adversely affecting the health of the people – punishable with life imprisonment. The bench of Chief Justice T.S.Thakur, Justice R.Banumathi and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit in their judgment said: “Since in India traditionally infants/children are fed milk, adulteration of milk and its products is a concern and stringent measures need to be taken to combat it. The consumption of adulterated milk and adulterated milk products is hazardous to human health.”
The apex court’s direction to make milk adulteration, adversely impacting the health of the people, punishable with life imprisonment came on a PIL by Uttarakhand-based religious seer Swami Achyutanand Tirth who had highlighted the menace of growing sales of adulterated and synthetic milk in different parts of the country. The Swami had sought direction to the central and the concerned state governments to take immediate, effective and serious steps to rule out the sale and circulation of synthetic/adulterated milk and milk products like ghee, mawa, cheese, etc.