A national level survey carried out by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has found that adulteration and higher than permissible level of antibiotic residues in milk remain a problem in the country, though the instances could be much fewer than what is generally perceived.
The 'National Milk Safety and Quality Survey 2018' results announced on October 18 showed that 12 out of 6,432 samples of milk were found unsafe for human consumption due to adulteration. There were 77 samples that had residues of antibiotics above the permissible limits. About 5.7 per cent of the samples, that is 368, out of 6432 samples were also found to be contaminated with aflatoxin M1 residues, a chemical compound that get into the milk through feed and fodder.
Among 12 adulterated samples, six were found to contain hydrogen peroxide, while others had the presence of detergent, urea or neutralisers. Nine of the adulterated samples were from Telangana, two from Madhya Pradesh and one from Kerala.
According to FSSAI, this is the first time a detailed survey of the presence of Aflatoxin M1 in milk has been done in the country. Among top three states with highest levels of Aflatoxin M1 residues are Tamil Nadu (88 out of 551 samples), Delhi (38 out of 262 samples) and Kerala (37 out of 187 samples). The problem is more dominant in processed milk than raw milk.
Similarly, the top three states with highest levels of antibiotics residues were Madhya Pradesh (23 out of 335 samples), Maharashtra (nine out of 678 samples) and Uttar Pradesh (eight out of 729 samples).
However, over 93 per cent of samples (5,976 out of 6,432) were found to be absolutely safe for human consumption. But, about 41 per cent of samples, though safe, fall short of one or the other quality parameter. Both raw and processed samples were found to be non-compliant because of low fat or low SNF (solids-not-fat) or both. Proportion of fat and SNF in milk varies widely by species and depends on breed as well.
The milk survey was conducted from May 2018 to October 2018 covering all states and UTs with the objective of monitoring safety and quality of liquid milk in the country. A total of 6,432 samples of milk were collected from 1,103 towns/cities with population above 50,000, representing both organised (retailers and processors) and non-organised (local dairy farms, milk vendors and milk mandis) sectors. Number of samples collected was linked to population at the sampling locations and covered different types of milk (raw and processed of various types).
While all samples were tested on the spot for critical parameters of quality and safety, samples that failed because of contaminants and adulterants were subjected to confirmatory analysis. This was done by proficient analysts in NABL-accredited and FSSAI-recognised laboratories using high-end equipment and employing established testing protocols. This survey has been carried out by an independent third party agency and is comprehensive enough to assess safety and quality of liquid milk.
FSSAI states that it is committed to zero tolerance for any adulteration and contamination of milk and will intensify efforts for surveillance and enforcement in hotspots identified through the survey.