Milk adulteration plays havoc with consumer’s health

Mansoor Ahmad
Friday, January 25, 2013


LAHORE: Milk is a sole natural food for infants for first few months of life and source of good quality nutrient for elderly. It is subjected to adulteration some of which is injurious to health making this complete, readily digested, and absorbed food a health hazard.

Lax attitude of civic bodies and regulators in stopping adulteration in milk is playing havoc with the health of consumers making them vulnerable to cancer, kidney failure, abnormal growth and diseases of joints and high blood pressure. Its adulteration is also keeping the majority of children underweight.

According to official statistics, annual milk production in Pakistan has crossed 38 billion liters making the country fourth largest global milk producer after India, United States and China. Dairy experts point out that milk the world over is watered/skimmed to increase profit. This, they contend, amounts to cheating the patients but this level of adulteration is not injurious for health.

They further reveal that in order to maintain its physical appearance as natural after adulteration of water the milkmen add starch, flour, urea, cane sugar, vegetable oil, etc. They say milk is a perishable commodity having shelf life of four hours after milking, so during summer months, it is likely to be spoiled during transportation. The middlemen, they add, therefore add chemical preservatives, such as penicillin, strepto-penicillin, formaldehyde, hydrogen peroxide, sodium bi-carbonate, urea, hair removing chemicals etc. to prolong its shelf life.

They say the other way to preserve the shelf life of milk is either to pack it in special packing after ultra heat treatment that increases the shelf life by up to three months or to pasteurise it as is done in most of the developed and developing countries that prolongs the shelf life to 48 hours.

The oldest and simplest method of adulterating milk is dilution with water. If the water thus used is pure it does not harm other than to defraud the consumer, but if impure, as it often is when drawn from wells near manure heaps, in barnyards, or country privies, it may prove fatal.

The adulterants/ preservatives assume the proportion of health hazards for end consumers; particularly infants and elderly. “Formaldehyde is the substance most commonly used for preserving milk and is rarely, if ever, added to any other food. Its use is inexcusable and especially objectionable in milk served to infants and invalids,” said Hanif Khalid, a dairy farmer.

He said district administrations in all cities are aware of the malpractices in milk sales and periodically takes samples that after tests are found to be adulterated by the above mentioned chemicals but has been unable to eliminate or tackle this menace. In Lahore in some cases the regulators even found Aflaxocin M1 in powder milk samples and also in some of the loose milk samples.

Dr Abid Khokar, a medical practitioner, said abnormal growth, nervous disorder in babies, diseases of joints, kidneys and high blood pressure stem from adulterated milk. Melamine, in particular in combination with cyanuric acid, causes deposition and precipitation of birefringent (double refraction) crystals, thereby causing renal failure. He said in cases where antibiotics or formalin are used to preserve milk it would not be possible to break the milk in to curd by adding lemon juice or a spoon of curd.

An orthopedic surgeon Dr Abdul Rauf said a more dangerous trend developed in recent years among the dairy farmers is to inject growth hormone (rBGH) to dairy cows or buffaloes to increase milk production. He said it has now been established that growth hormones induce prolonged negative energy balance for at least eight weeks during which increased milk production is paralleled by reduced total body fat, excessive tissue loss and hypertrophy of foregut tissue.

He said traces of this hormone are found in the milk consumed by human beings. He said this milk contains higher quantity of fat with long chain fatty acids.

Besides, he added this milk induces premature growth stimulation in infants, gynecomastia (excessive development of the breasts in males) in young children and breast cancer in women. He said this unethical practice should be curbed through stern administrative action.

A worker of a milk processing plant confided to The News that when a cream separator at a creamery is cleaned it is often found to contain a residue of manure, hairs, dirt, and perhaps pus and blood from inflamed udders. This speaks volumes about the way we collect and sell milk.

Courtesy: NEWS

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