New Delhi: Milk has largely become safe in India after imposition of strict food safety rules and regulations by government, still quality issues persist, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said on Tuesday.

The interim report of the National Milk Quality Survey, 2018 released by FSSAI on Tuesday revealed that among all the samples analyzed, slightly less than 10% had contaminants coming mainly from poor farm practices.

The apex food regulator tested at least 6432 samples on four quality parameters, 12 adulterants including vegetable oil, detergents, glucose and urea; and four contaminants, 93 antibiotics residues, 18 pesticides residues, Aflatoxin M1 and Ammonium Sulphate. The survey is said to be the largest and most systemic so far. The survey was conducted over a period of six months between May to October, 2018.

At least 41% (2607) samples were for processed milk and remaining 59% (3825) were of raw milk. Of the processed milk, 60% were toned milk, 20% full-cream milk, 15% standard milk and 5% double toned milk. Of the raw milk, one third each were samples of cow, buffalo and mixed milk.

“Less than 10% (638 out of 6,432 samples) had contaminants that make milk unsafe for consumption. In all these cases, milk is getting contaminated due to poor quality of feed, irresponsible use of antibiotics and poor farm practices," said FSSAI CEO Pawan Agarwal.

The survey found that non-compliance on fat and solid non fat (SNF) quality parameters is higher in raw milk (sourced directly from milkman) than processed milk.

“Non-compliance on quality parameters in processed milk is quite large, even though it is lower than raw milk. This is a matter of concern and needs to be addressed through various measures. There is no concern at all due pesticides residues. Only 1.2% of the samples failed on account of antibiotics residues above tolerance level and it was mainly due to oxy-tetracycline used to treat animals with bovine mastitis," said Agarwal

“However high percentage of non-compliance samples does not suggest that proportionate volume of processed milk is non-compliant. Whereas there should be zero-tolerance to adulteration in milk, concerns of quality due to contaminants need to be addressed over a period of time by taking large scale awareness drive and public education," he said.

According to the survey report, around 5.7% of the samples had Aflatoxin (toxic carcinogen)- at levels above the permissible limit. Occurrence of Aflatoxin, Agarwal said, does not amount to willful adulteration, but is directly related to feed quality and has bearing on human health. Ammonium sulphate that can cause serious respiratory problems was detected in 3% samples of milk. Ammonium compounds including ammonium sulphate are reportedly added to feed to enhance protein intake of animals.

In 2011, FSSAI had conducted a speedy survey of adulteration of milk through its regional centres. Yet another milk survey was conducted through state food authorities in 2016.

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