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Forget calcium, there’s detergent and paint in Indian milk

Milkman Source: Getty Images

Indian’s Union Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan told the Lok Sabha recently that 2 out of 3 Indians drink milk laced with detergent, urea and paint. Amit Sarwal talks to Delhi-based Rhythma Kaul, Assistant Editor at the Hindustan Times regarding the seriousness of this issue.

Two out of three Indians drink milk laced with not only urea and paint but also detergent and caustic soda, Union Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan told the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, underscoring the country’s struggle with adulteration of food items by unscrupulous traders.

Vardhan also said over 68% of the milk sold did not conform to standards laid down by India’s food regulator FSSAI.

“These figures, that can be questioned, are from a nationwide survey conducted by the FSSAI in 2011,” says Rhythma Kaul.

According to Rhythma, “this statement is likely to spark an outcry in the world’s largest milk producer, where the drink is used for religious rituals and is a cheap source of protein for millions of vegetarians.”



Last year, a US government report projected an increase in fluid milk consumption by 5% to reach 62.75 million metric tons in India in 2016 based on population growth.

“The adulterants added are very hazardous, and could cause serious diseases. Since milk is commonly consumed in everyday diet, the issue is of grave concern,” the minister said in Parliament.



A new scanner that can detect adulteration in milk in 40 seconds and identify the adulterant will help in testing milk for safety, he said.

The first-of-its-kind technology has been developed by the Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute in Rajasthan’s Pilani town.

“The innovation represents the first fully Indian concept towards implementation effort in the instrumentation related to milk and dairy, addressing an unmet need,” he said.

Vardhan says - “The adoption and deployment of the innovation in as many villages and milk societies possible would be a step forward in enhancing and implementing the standards and quality of milk.”

Milk is collected from 200,000 villages across India for sale and distribution.