KILLER MILK WITH UREA & DETERGENT.
THOUSANDS of litres of adulterated milk mixed with chemicals with deadly health effects are making their way to Delhi every day. Standard quality tests have proved inadequate for identifying such milk.
Criminals running illegal but very profitable dairies and a host of individual milkmen extract fat ( cream) from natural milk and then mix urea, caustic soda, detergents and formalyn -- which cause irreparable damage to body organs and can sometimes be life- threatening -- before pushing the adulterated milk into the market.
Alarm bells have gone off after more than 50,000 litres of adulterated milk -- a substantial part of which was headed for the Delhi market -- was seized from several districts of Uttar Pradesh in the last three days.
The raids were conducted in Agra, Moradabad, Shahjehanpur, Kanpur, Varanasi, Lucknow, Rae Bareli, Lucknow and Lalitpur by officials of the Food and Drug Administration ( FDA).
" This daily intake is white poison for children and adults. The adulterants cause diseases of the stomach, intestine, skin and the kidneys. Drinking such milk over a long period could result in death," said Ram Asre, food inspector of Agra.
There are an estimated 3.5 lakh unregistered dairies in the Capital. " I don't rule out the possibility that milk adulterated with chemicals is sold in Delhi. It's a big city and it's nearly impossible to check samples from each and every milk retailer," Delhi health minister Kiran Walia said.
The illegal milk suppliers have also taken to using fake packages of well- known brands of dairy products. This was discovered during the weekend raids. Where monitoring is not up to the mark, this becomes dangerous for the consumers.
There are indications that the quantity of adulterated milk coming into Delhi could be rising.
The raids over the weekend come after nearly 50,000 litres of adulterated milk were seized from over a dozen districts of UP last month. Sources said that over 22,000 litres of adulterated milk was being brought into the Capital from western Uttar Pradesh alone.
Similarly shocking figures for adulterated milk supply to Delhi are provided by officials even though the overall quantity of synthetic milk being consumed in Delhi is hard to come by.
" We have recovered 2,500 litres of poisonous milk from Ankur Dairy in the Dhandupura area.
This milk was meant for consumers in Delhi. The dairy owner has been arrested. Since the dairy is a year old, we believe he has supplied more than nine lakh litres of this milk so far," said Asre.
Much of this milk finds its way to the consumer through the numerous sweet shops. Ram Naresh Yadav, Agra's chief food inspector and Anil Chaurasiya, additional city magistrate of Lucknow, agreed. Chaurasiya said: " They not only supply spurious milk for domestic consumption but also to small sweet shops. We have conducted raids at sweet shops in the past and recovered adulterated sweets. This exercise will continue," he said.
The wide network of illegal dairies supplying synthetic milk is wreaking havoc on consumers.
The Indian Council of Medical Research has reported that milk adulterants have hazardous health effects. The detergent in milk can cause food poisoning and other gastrointestinal complications.
Its high alkaline level can also damage body tissue and destroy proteins.
Other synthetic components can cause impairments, heart problems, cancer or even death.
While the immediate effect of drinking milk adulterated with urea, caustic soda and formalyn is gastroenteritis, the long- term effects are far more serious.
" A very small amount of urea can lead to vomiting, nausea and gastritis," said Dr M. P Sharma, head of internal medicine at Rockland Hospital. More serious damage can be caused by formalyn.
" Formalyn can cause liver damage," Dr Sharma said. While digestive symptoms are likely to manifest within an hour, these can be delayed for up to six hours after consuming the adulterated milk.
The health impact of drinking milk adulterated with these chemicals is worse for children.
" Soap contains caustic soda which harms the mucosa of the food pipe, especially in kids," said Neelam Mohan, director of paediatric gastroenterology at Medanta- The Medicity. Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to the impact of these chemicals, which can harm the foetus.
The chemicals worsen the condition of those with pre- existing heart or kidney problems. Urea is particularly harmful for the kidneys, and caustic soda is a slow poison for people suffering from hypertension and heart ailments.
Caustic soda, which contains sodium, acts as slow poison for those suffering from hypertension and heart ailments.
Urea and caustic soda are very harmful to the heart and liver.
" While the immediate impact is on the stomach, the long- term impacts can be retarded growth and even cancer," said nutritionist Geetika Ahluwalia. Caustic soda also deprives the body from utilizing lysine, an essential amino acid in milk, which is required by growing babies.
Despite the stiff jail sentences that milk adulteration can attract -- two days ago a fast track court in Shahjahanpur had sentenced Ram Babu, a milk vendor, to life imprisonment -- those involved rarely back down because of the huge profits involved.
An official involved in the recent raids explained that one litre of pure milk usually sells for Rs 30. Synthetic milk is sold at Rs 20 per litre. However, it costs the illegal dairy owners only Rs 2 to make synthetic milk using the deadly milk.
Hari Singh, chief food inspector of Shahjahanpur, said: " It is difficult to detect adulteration by the normal lactometer because once mixed in cream extracted milk, urea and caustic soda show the purity and fat content of the natural milk," he said.
HOW IT IS MADE
Synthetic milk is prepared by mixing vegetable oil, urea, detergent, caustic soda and formalyn with fat extracted from natural milk
Formalyn is meant to preserve synthetic milk for a week
The liquid is thoroughly blended in a mixer till it looks identical to thick, rich, creamy natural milk
Its cost works out to ` 2 per litre but it is sold for ` 20 a litre
Other milk products are also made with it and the total earning works out to about ` 58 per litre
WHY IT IS TOUGH TO SPOT
At levels below 10 per cent, synthetic milk adulteration in natural milk is extremely difficult to detect
Normal lactometers are unable to differentiate between the two because extracted milk, urea, detergent and caustic soda show the same purity and fat content as natural milk after being mixed with cream
Adulteration is being carried out even in remote rural areas
Synthetic milk is not well- defined and one test cannot detect it
Though there is no test to detect the presence of detergent, other methods can be employed to ascertain urea level or caustic soda presence if the adulteration is 10 per cent or more
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