68% milk in India is below quality, here's how you can spot its adulteration at home

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Science and Technology Minister, Harsh Vardhan, revealed that around 68 percent of milk in India does not conform to quality standards. We list ways in which you can spot milk adulteration at home

During the recent Lok Sabha Question Hour, the Science and Technology Minister, Harsh Vardhan, revealed that around 68 percent of milk in India does not conform to quality standards.

This statement raked up an atmosphere of anxiety not only in Lok Sabha, but also in various Indian households where milk is considered to be the primary ingredient for a child's development. In fact, in most Indian households, milk is used in food preparations and not to forget in traditional drinks such as tea and coffee.

Milk adulteration in India

The minister made the following revelations about milk adulteration in India, during the Question Hour:

  • The most common adulterants in Indian milk are detergent, glucose, caustic soda, refined oil and white paint, which are all extremely hazardous and can cause serious ailments. While detergents can cause food poisoning and damage tissues, synthetic components can cause hearing impairments, cancer and even cardiac arrests.
  • The government has developed a scanner that can identify milk adulteration in mere 40 seconds and even pinpoint at the exact adulterant

Last year in July, the food watchdog of India, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) announced capping of Melamine (white nitrogen-rich crystals used in plastics, cardboards and even adhesives) content in milk and milk products that were sold across the country.

Your milk is adulterated when...

The FSSAI released a document describing the various milk adulterants and ways to tackle them. They suggest that if food is tampered with in the ways listed below, it is considered contaminated and adulterated:

  • A substance is added, which depreciates or injuriously affects
  • Cheaper substances are substituted either wholly or in part
  • Any valuable or necessary constituent has been wholly or in part abstracted
  • It is an imitation
  • It is coloured or otherwise treated, to improve its appearance or if it contains any added substance injurious to health
  • For whatever reason, its quality is below standard

How to spot adulterated milk at home

The central food regulator has also given guidelines on how one can check on adulteration and contamination in milk.

  • Water: Put a drop if milk on a polished smooth surface.The drop of pure milk will slide down leaving a trail, while milk adulterated with water will slide down without an trail.
  • Detergent: Shake 5-10 ml of sample milk with the same amount of water. If you spot lather, know that it is contaminated with detergent.
  • Synthetic milk: Synthetic milk leaves a bitter after taste and turns yellow after heating. You can also spot synthetic milk by rubbing it between your fingers, if it feels soapy, it is synthetic.
  • Starch: Add some Iodine solution to sample milk and if you see blue colour, it is an indication that there is presence of starch in the milk.

You can also spot adulteration in milk products at home by doing these simple experiments:

  • Starch in khoya and its products: Boil the product and let it cool for sometime. Now add some Iodine solution, if it turns blue, then it is adulterated with starch.
  • Starch in paneer or chenna: Again, boil the sample product and let it cool for sometime. Add Iodine solution to it and if it turns blue, then it is adulterated with starch.

Steps you can take at home

If you feel or have found (using these methods) that the milk at your house is adulterated, then you can also take a few steps to ensure its clean for consumption. Here's what you can do:

  • Keep an eye on the milk you get at home and visit the dairy periodically
  • Make sure you boil the milk at slow flame before its consumption
  • Avoid re-boiling of milk as it brings down its nutritional value

If you apply these simple methods, you can easily screen the quality of milk consumed and thereby make an informed decision.

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(Image courtesy: Nehachandana)

Written by

Deepshikha Punj