The festive season is upon us, and with celebrations, come loads of sweets because no Indian festival is complete without them. Given that our nation has a voracious appetite for sugary treats, milk and milk products tend to fly off the shelf during this time.
And as the demand surges, suppliers, in an attempt to cut costs and keep up with the demand, resort to adulteration.
The Economic Times reports that out of every 3 Indians, 2 drink milk adulterated with detergent, caustic soda, urea and paint. A recent Animal Welfare Board report also revealed that 68.7 % of the milk production in the country, along with milk by-products, was found to be contaminated with dangerous, polluting ingredients.
More than two-thirds of milk and milk products sold in India do not meet the standards set by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), new research reveals.
Why is milk adulterated?
As mentioned above, the spike in the demand for milk and milk products during the festival season is an important reason, as they constitute a huge market. Further, adulteration is a tempting prospect for unscrupulous people who want to cut production costs and increase profit margins.
How is milk adulterated?
Water is the most common way to increase the volume of milk. In addition to water, detergent, caustic soda, glucose, white paints and refined oil are used to adulterate milk. While water makes milk thin, the other contaminants make it appear thick. Salt, detergents and glucose add to the viscosity of the diluted milk while starch prevents milk from curdling. So while water increases the volume of the milk, the other contaminants make it very difficult for the end consumer to find out whether the milk is diluted or pure.
What happens upon consuming adulterated milk?
Diluted and contaminated milk can impair the functioning of various organs in the human body. Heart problems, cancer and even death, can be caused by drinking adulterated milk.
So how do you ensure that your milk is not adulterated?
Well, there are a few simple tests, which can determine whether starch and detergent have been used to dilute milk.
1) Take a small sample of the milk, and mix it with around 20 ml of water, and bring it to a boil. Cool to room temperature in a transparent glass, and add a drop or two of iodine solution. If the solution in the transparent glass turns blue, it indicates the presence of starch.
2) To test for detergents, mix around 10 ml of a milk sample, with an equal quantity of water, and shake the mixture vigorously. The milk adulterated with detergent will form a dense lather, while the pure milk will have a thin layer of foam.
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In case you are worried about consuming adulterated milk, you should purchase it from organic sources, if possible. Farm-raised cattle milk is good for consumption, as opposed to milk that has been mass-produced.
Adulterated milk can cause its fair share of health problems, so this festive season, when you purchase it to make your favourite dessert, ensure that you are consuming pure milk, which isn’t adulterated!
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)