Milk Adulteration: Livestock & Dairy

Milk Adulteration
Milk Adulteration

Milk is a great blessing of nature. It is a complete food from the few months baby to the elder person. It provides the entire elements needed by a body for its development and growth such as protein, water, carbohydrates, minerals, fat and vitamins. It not only provides power but also enhances immunity to fight against many different types of pathogens. It is necessary for the growth of bones and for the blood clotting. It fulfills body’s calcium requirement. 100g of cow’s milk contains 3.9g fat, 87.8g water, 14mg cholesterol, 120mg calcium, 3.2g protein and A, B, D, K etc. A lot of eatable things can be made from milk like cheese; yogurt, ice cream, butter and in many other confectioneries. Milk has no perishable form.

Unfortunately, the human population is increasing in uncontrolled manner so it has become a great challenge to fulfill the human needs of milk. Pakistan is the fourth largest country for milk production of the world but still it doesn’t meet demands of the nation. According to a survey of Pakistan, almost 8.5 million livestock is raised by small and poor families in the rural areas and 35-40 million of rural population is dependent on livestock.

As Pakistan is developing country, a milk man has to face a lot of economic problems. We usually heard people using the word ‘‘milk adulteration’’ but most of us unaware that how it could be harmful. Most of the rural milkmen are uneducated and usually have a large family which depends on the income of milk. There are other factors like late age of maturity of animal, shortage of fodder and high disease prevalence which are also challenge for milkmen. So they add different adulterants like water, starch, urea, flour and vegetable oil in milk to increase its quantity. Another important thing which compels them to do adulteration (addition of anything which is not the entity of milk naturally) is that milk has less shelf life as 3-4 hours after milking. To increase its shelf life, milkmen add different preservatives like urea, formaldehyde, borax, salicylic acid, sodium bi-carbonate and penicillin without knowing their side effects. There are almost 25 different types of adulterants which are used in daily routine. These chemicals are usually tasteless and are used in very small proportions. Sometime time adulterants are used to improve milk odor and taste as the bleaching powder is used to remove the color from milk.

According to media almost 80% of the milk is sold in adulterated form. The simple and old way to adulterate milk is addition of the water. After diluting the milk with water they add many other chemicals to maintain its density as Carboxymethyl cellulose powder, urea, detergents, solid not foot and starch. As many milk companies check the milk density by lactometers before buying the milk. Few milkmen add the blended milk and urea to the natural milk which don’t disturb natural look of milk. Urea damages the liver and kidney and can cause the lung cancer. Few milkmen separate the cream from the milk and add the vegetable oil, animal fats and greases to increase fat contents. Soap is also used to provide the foamy touch. Sugar and sodium chloride are used to for taste.

Milk adulterants are highly injurious to the health. The most common adulterant is water is used in pure form then its ok otherwise, if it is contaminated with the wastes or manure then it could be fatal. Formaldehyde is also used as adulterants it is usually used as antiseptic. According to Canadian Environment Protection Act 1999 it is highly toxic. Ingestion of excessive formaldehyde causes dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, blindness, madness and allergy. In extreme case it may lead to death.

Adulteration is not only addition of anything in milk after milking but it is anything which is not included in the milk composition. As few people use the antibiotics for the chemotherapy of their animals. It is usually recommended by the veterinarians that milk of these animals should not be used for drinking purpose even after 7 days of treatment because these antibiotics go directly in human bodies and play an important role in enhancement of the antibiotic resistance (It means the normal flora of the human body as well as the other pathogenic bacteria becomes resistance to these antibodies and if the patient will be infected from anyone of those bacteria, the antibiotic will not be effective and patient may not cure for a long period of time.) Another important example is, some milkmen inject oxytocin to the milking animal to increase the quantity of the milk. This is not good practice such animals release too much oxytocin in the milk. High level of oxytocin lead to the early puberty in female, gynecomastia (excessive development of male’s breast) and premature births. A case study was conducted in 1858: “swill milk” was sold in NYC—milk derived from alcohol mash fed cows, which kill many children up to 8000 within a year.

Few people use the fungus contaminated bread to feed their animals which is highly dangerous job. Many fungus species can grow on the bread and produce toxin there. When animals eat these food these toxins are released in the milk and ultimately become part of the human’s body especially Aspergillus flavus produces the aflatoxin M1 and M2 in the milk. These toxins decrease the immunity level of a healthy person. These toxins are usually acted as antibiotic binder and it also leads to the failure of many vaccines, as a result of which the person become immunocompromised and cannot fight against many diseases.

Milk is a good source for growth of microorganisms. No doubt, natural milk may contain many pathogens like Brucella abortus and Mycobacterium tuberclosis, Salmonella etc but in the presence of the adulteration their disease causing ability increases from minor to the major level. It also causes many other diseases like the hepatitis, cancer, gastrointestinal illness, nerves disorder, shedding of hair, hypertension, kidney failure, coronary heart disease, abnormal growth, lack of patience, decrease in intelligence and even death. Milk should be boiled or pasteurized (at 60 °C for 30 minutes and then suddenly cool down) to get rid of these pathogens.

There are many tests for checking the adulteration level in milk i.e. Methylene Blue Reduction test to check the microbial level in milk. Iodine solution, Phenolphthalein, mercuric nitrate, sulphuric acid in combination with ferric chloride and sodium hydrochloride are used to check the presence of extra starch, soap, gelatin solution, formalin solution and ammonium sulphate respectively in milk.

There are many laboratories in Pakistan who provide milk testing services. As the Quality Operation Lab (University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences Lahore), Shakar Ganj Food Products Limited, National Health Laboratories Islamabad and CHeCF Private Limited. They perform different tests to check if the milk is adulterated or not.

Punjab government introduced the Pure Food laws 2007 and Food Safety Standards Act 2011 for marketing the food including milk. Still there is great need to take preventive measures to stop milk adulteration. There should be strict law against milkmen who adulterate the milk. Government should build more laboratories in all districts and the technical persons should be trained to collect the samples from the rural and urban areas and if the milk found adulterated then milkmen should be punished. Awareness campaigns should be run in different areas to minimize the milk adulteration trend. There should be license system for milk business. Government should establish and implement different policies to minimize the disease rate amongst the livestock by vaccinating them and they should support milkmen economically so that they can sale milk.
an article on Milk Adulteration by one of our active female alumni Ms. Mehwish. She is currenlty working with Nobel Welfare Foundation as a secretary, she is dedicated and energetic girl to her tasks.

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