Widespread adulteration of milk

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THE Supreme Court has rendered great service to the cause of public health by taking serious notice of the widespread practice of adulteration of milk, playing havoc with the lives of the ordinary citizens and especially infants. Hearing a case about sale of substandard milk, its two-member bench headed by Justice Saqib Nisar, ordered laboratory analysis of all brands of packaged milk.
Adulteration of milk is nothing new as media reports have been appearing regularly about widespread adulteration and contamination of both packaged and loose milk besides baby milk where melamine is reportedly added and that too in dangerous proportions. A study carried out in 2014 found that 60.3% milk samples failed the hygiene standards tests. Experts say water is added to increase volume, thickening agents (starch, flour, skimmed milk powder, whey powder) to counter dilution; vegetable oil, sugarcane or urea to compensate the fat; and chemicals like hydrogen peroxide, carbonates, bicarbonates, antibiotics, caustic soda, and even the most lethal chemical formalin to increase storage period of milk; ice to enhance shelf life; and detergents to enhance the cosmetic nature of milk. Addition of impure water, expired milk powder and other ingredients lead to multiple diseases like gastrointestinal problems and disturbance of natural immunity of the human body. Barrister Zafarullah Khan, in his petition before the apex court, has also pointed out that use of contaminated and substandard milk is causing serious diseases including cancer and Hepatitis-C among people. It is ironical that all this is happening before the eyes of the law and one can find different types of loose milk with different prices at each milk shop. We have food inspectors but they are just receiving their salaries or conduct raids for the sake of palm-greasing. Adulteration is not just confined to milk as almost same is the case with other food items and products but the authorities concerned are just sleeping over these killer practices. Hopefully, SC would take the issue to the logical conclusion and media would force the Government to act and act now.