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The Times of India, March 17, 2016
68% of milk adulterated, new kit to test in 40 seconds
With over 68% of the milk in India found adulterated in a 2011 Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) study , the government is working towards providing an accurate, portable test kit for the important staple. Science and technology minister Harsh Vardhan told the Lok Sabha that a new scanner had been developed which can detect adulteration in milk in 40 seconds, and pinpoint the adult rant.
Earlier, for every type of adulteration, a separate chemical test was required.Now a single scanner can do the job, he added. The scanner is priced at about Rs 10,000, and each test would cost a mere 5 to 10 paisa.
Most common adulterants found in milk are detergent, caustic soda, glucose, white paint and refined oil, a practice considered “very hazardous“ and which can cause serious ailments. Vardhan said in the near future, even GPS-based technology could be used to track the exact location in the supply chain where the milk was tampered with.
National Milk Safety and Quality Survey, 2018: 50% samples failed
Nearly half the milk samples tested by the food safety regulator, which includes raw milk and processed milk, have been found to be non-compliant in terms of the required standards. Of this, around 10% samples were found to be unsafe raising concerns over the need for better regulation and testing of milk consumed in the country.
Tests found 39% of total samples to be non-compliant but safe. But the regulator expressed particular concern about processed milk where 46.8% samples did not meet standards set by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), of which a significant 17.3% share was found to be unsafe.
On the contrary, only 4.9% of raw milk samples were found having safety issues. The rest 45.4% of raw milk was found to be non-compliant with regulatory standards but safe for public health, according to the findings of the National Milk Safety and Quality Survey, 2018.
“We are surprised and particularly concerned that processed milk which is mostly from the organised sector is non-compliant and have a higher percentage of safety issues as compared to raw milk samples. We have the details of these processed milk samples, including their brands and locations. We are doing a detailed investigation and will soon take action to resolve this,” FSSAI chief executive Pawan Agarwal said.
Agarwal maintained milk in India is “largely safe” though there are quality issues, which are being looked at by the regulator. The unsafe contaminants are coming mainly from “poor farm practices”, he said.
Findings of the survey show main contaminants causing safety concerns are related to presence of antibiotics, soil fertilisers like ammonium sulphate and toxins like Aflatoxin M1- found on agricultural crops such as maize, cottonseed and tree nuts — above tolerance level.
Milk cheats should get life term: SC
The Times of India, Aug 06 2016
Expressing concern over the alarming level of milk adulteration in the country , the Supreme Court on Friday favoured stringent punishment of life imprisonment for the offence which, at present, is punishable by only up to six months in jail or fine. A bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices R Banumathi and U U Lalit said there was an urgent need to tackle the menace of growing sale of adulterated and synthetic milk. It said milk adulteration could adversely affect the growth of future generations as it was the staple diet of children and infants.
Asking the Centre and states to consider amending the present lenient law, the bench said Uttar Pradesh, Bengal and Odisha had already amended the law making adulteration punishable by up to life imprisonment and there was not hing wrong in following their footsteps for a stringent law.
“It will be in order, if the Centre considers making suitable amendments in the pe nal provisions on a par with the provisions contained in the state amendments to the IPC. It is also desirable that the Centre revisits the Food Safety and Standards Act to revise the punishment for adulteration making it more deterrent in cases where the adulterant can have an adverse impact on health,“ it said.
The SC directed the government to spread awareness about the hazardous impact of milk adulteration and methods for detection of common adulterants in food. It directed the Centre and states to evolve a complaint mechanism for checking corruption and other unethical practices.
“Adulteration of milk and its products is a concern and stringent measures need to be taken to combat it,“ the bench said and referred to a 2011 re port of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) which said that over 68% of milk sold in the market was found to be adulterated.
The report said cases of milk adulteration were rampant, with all samples in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Bengal, Mizoram, Jharkhand and Daman & Diu found to have been adulterated.
The court passed the order on a bunch of petitions filed by people from different states seeking its direction to governments to provide for stringent punishment for milk adulteration. Advocate Anurag Tomar, appearing for the petitioners, contended that milk contaminated with synthetic material was being sold in various states, posing serious threat to the life and health of consumers.
Milk production on India, 2010-18
NOT QUITE A FLOOD
The Times of India Mar 06 2015
In India, 70% of cattle are reared by small and marginal farmers. Official data shows that the average productivity of milch cattle in India was 1,385 kg per year, much lower than the world average of 2,319 kg per year. The UN Food and Agricultural Organization categorizes consumption of more than 411 gm of milk per day as high, 82-411 gmper day as medium and less than 82 gm as low. In 2013-14, the per capita availability of milk in seven Indian states was more than FAO's high consumption mark while 5 states and UTs were in the low consumption category.
2015 and 1970-2015 respectively
India, China, Pakistan and the world
Milk production, 1970-2015
Milk Consumption in India’s top 10 states (The years are not clear but presumably the grey bars could refer to 1980 and the blue bars to 2015)
The state-wise position
Across Maharashtra’s once prosperous milk belt, many dairy farmers face this stinging reality: the milk they sell is cheaper than water.
Some get Rs 23 per litre of cow’s milk, mainly in the milk hub of Kolhapur. But most earn just Rs 17-19. By comparison, bottled water sells at Rs 20 a litre. Once the milk reaches consumers in cities, the price doubles to Rs 40-44. But farmers do not get a share of the mark-up.
As the milk economy curdles, the sight of milk dumped on roads has become emblematic of farmer protests. A year ago they got up to Rs 27 per litre of cow’s milk, but prices plunged by Rs 4-10 eight months ago as a result of a surplus and a crash in international skimmed milk powder prices.
With several dairies announcing cuts in procurement rates by Rs 2 from Thursday and some choosing not to buy cow’s milk at all, the crisis is mounting.
Babasaheb Mane from Sangli’s Mahuli village was once a proud dairy farmer. He made Rs 30,000 a month from his four cows last year. Today, he and his wife work as farm labourers to keep their home running.
Mane sells 40 litres of milk daily for Rs 17 per litre.
Since Nov, Maha has milk surplus of 22L ltr per day
I make Rs 720 a day but spend Rs1,000 on the cows. I used to make a profit of Rs 15,000 per month, but now I make a loss of Rs 9,000,” he says. Farmers are trapped between the fall in procurement rates and sharp increase in costs of inputs, including fodder, oil-cakes and lactation pellets for cattle over the last year.
Maharashtra’s formal sector collects 115 lakh litres of milk daily. In June 2017, after the historic farmer strike, the state hiked the procurement price from Rs 24 to Rs 27 per litre. However, prices plummeted in just a few months. Since November, the state has had a surplus of 22 lakh litres per day. At the same time, international skimmed milk powder prices fell 30-40%. Unable to sell their milk powder stock, dairies faced losses and cut the price offered to farmers. Maharashtra currently has stocks of 29,000 tonnes of skimmed milk powder.
The bulk of the state’s dairy sector is private. Only 1% of the state’s milk is bought by the government and 39% by cooperative dairies mainly controlled by the Congress and NCP. As much as 60% is bought by private dairies.
The state admits it cannot control prices in a de-controlled sector dominated by private players. “When the Milk Control Order was in force till mid-2000, the state controlled licences to dairies. But now milk is an open commodity,” said state dairy development commissioner Rajeev Jadhav.
The government has tried to enforce the procurement price of Rs 27 by issuing directives to cooperative dairies. “But the cooperative dairies went to court and in most cases, the high court issued a stay,” said Jadhav. Cooperative dairies accuse the BJP government of trying to crush a sector controlled by the opposition.
Dairies are demanding an export incentive for skimmed milk powder and subsidies to milk farmers, like that offered by Karnataka. CM Devendra Fadnavis has asked the Centre to declare a minimum support price for milk and 10% export incentive on skimmed milk powder.
Those leading the milk agitation say dairies are also exploiting farmers to make a difficult situation worse. “If the entire dairy industry is impacted by skimmed milk powder stocks, how are other states offering higher procurement rates? And why are dairies in Kolhapur able to offer higher rates than other parts of the state?” asks Ajit Navale of the Kisan Sabha. By now, even the bigger dairy farmers are exiting the trade.
In June 2017, after the historic farmer strike, the state hiked the procurement price of milk from Rs 24 to Rs 27 per litre. However, prices plummeted in just a few months
A2 indigenous cows popular/ 2017
The best reason to save the desi cow has not hing to do with bovine politics. It is milk. Desi doodh, or A2 milk from indigenous cows, is becoming the latest health fad, with small dairies and big brands like Amul entering the market.
Much of the cow milk available in the market is A1, from crossbred or foreign cows.Though research is not conclusive, some studies have shown that A1 can trigger inflammation in the body, potentially leading to ailments like diabetes and heart disease. A2, on the other hand, has found favour with the health-conscious and the lactose-intolerant who say it is easy to digest.
In fact, it's already got takers abroad. A Sydney-based company , a2 Milk Company , has found an international following in New Zealand and China and is expanding to the United States. Back home, Amul has responded to the new interest in A2. It recently launched a premium desi cow milk product in Ahmedabad and plans to add the Surat market next. However, Amul manag ing director R S Sodhi admits that the market is niche. “When you want to sell it at a premium price, the market is very small. But gradually , awareness is growing.“
A small but growing band of dairy farmers is also catering to this new market. V Shivakumar, a former Wall Street programmer, realized the difficulties of sourcing A2 milk because of a lactose-intolerant newborn. He went on to form the Coimbatore-based Kongu Goshala to preserve Tamil Nadu's Kangeyam and Tiruchengodu breeds. He also runs a mobile app Kongu Maddu, where people can place orders for A2 milk. Gurgaonbased Back2basics breeds Gir cows for A2 milk which it supplies to households in Delhi, Noida and Gurgaon.
When retired market researcher Titoo Ahluwalia first started keeping cows at his farm in Nandgaon, a coastal village near Mumbai, he was more interested in generating dung for his organic vegetables and ensuring his children grew up around “these gentle, giving animals“. When he read up on desi cows, he realised the benefits of the milk. “Regrettably, many desi varieties of cow are already close to extinction,“ says Ahluwalia.
While most dairy owners deny any problems related to consumption of A1 milk, they do admit that local cows are much more in tune with India's climate conditions, and therefore remain healthier.“Desi cows are heat-tolerant and tick-tolerant, and they have good immune systems, so we hope to have more of our European cows cross-breed with them,“ says Aniket Thorat of Bhagyalaxmi Farms in Pune which prides itself on keeping its Holstein-Freisian cows in a controlled space of wellness -that includes playing Indian and western classical music to them and following organic processes.
Foreign and crossbred cows, such as Holsteins, give far higher volumes of milk compared with, say , the desi Gir cow -the biggest reason for their overwhelming popularity among dairy farmers.Desi cows are bred largely by religious communities and ashrams, where the animal is revered and productivity is not the prime motivation. According to one farmer, there are just about 15,000-18,000 Gir cows left in the country .Brazil, which imported them from India in the late sixties, has a far higher population.
The National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources, Karnal, has been trying to motivate farmers to shift to A2 breeds, with some success, says Monica Sodhi, a scientist at the institute.“Here, in Karnal, farmers sell A1 milk at Rs 40-45litre, but A2 gets them a higher rate of Rs 65-70litre. Right now, farmers and dairies from all over India have sent us close to 1,000 semen samples to test (genetically) whether they are A2 or A1.“
In 2012, Dr Sodhi published a paper in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology which says that incidence of type-1 diabetes and cardio-vascular diseases is low in populations with high consumption of the A2 variant of milk. “It's closest to mother's milk and is easily digested by humans. However, there's no conclusive study available yet on A1 milk and if it's harmful for health. But what we have seen is that a byproduct created during breakdown of A1 milk in our digestive tract can lead to health problems.“ A combination of health, spiritual leanings, and that eternal quest for the good old days has motivated some individuals to create awareness about the desi cow and to lobby with various agencies to increase its population before it is too late. “Life has reached a point where we really have to rethink what we feed our children every day ,“ says Mumbaibased Rekha Khanna who is working with several gaushalas across the country to promote desi cow products.
Cancer survivor Amit Vaidya, 38, says he returned to India from the US after doctors there told him that he didn't have long to live. Left with no other option, he underwent `cow therapy' and swears by A2 milk and its byproducts, ghee and yoghurt. “For me, though, I have to go one step beyond just having A2 milk; I need to know what the cows are eating -if they are grass-fed, living an organic life. Their milk will also then add nourishment to our bodies. To put it simply , you have to know where and from whom your milk is coming!“ (Additional reporting by Shobita Dhar)