Almost 22% of the milk sold in Karnataka is adulterated. This is not a recent revelation but one that was thrown up by a Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) study in 2011. Taking cognizance of the finding, the Congress government in 2014 mooted a legislation to punish errant milk suppliers. However, it is yet to see the light of day, thanks to bureaucratic hurdles resulting from the government’s lack of interest.
“We had written to the health department seeking their permission to draft a separate law to check milk adulteration since it comes directly under their jurisdiction. But we haven’t got a go-ahead till now,” said NS Channappa Gowda, secretary, department of animal husbandry and fisheries. He said he will write to them again.
Health department officials, however, defended their decision saying several states including Karnataka had been pressuring the Centre to amend the existing Food Safety and Standards Act and make adulteration of milk a non-bailable offence. “Otherwise, the state government has to draft the amended law and send it to the Centre for approval because the Act is a central legislation,” a senior official said.
A few years ago, the University of Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences had conducted a random study and found at least a dozen private dairies in border areas of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh selling synthetic milk in Karnataka. It contained urea, caustic soda, refined oil (cheap cooking oil) and common detergents. The study found detergents were added to give milk a frothy look and refined oil to increase the fat content.
KMF sources said chemicals like hydrogen peroxide and formalin are also added to extend the milk’s shelf life and to save on electricity costs. Unscrupulous milkmen and private dairies operating near Bengaluru – Hosur and Salem districts of Tamil Nadu – have also been selling such milk for Rs 15-Rs 20 a per litre.
“There are reports of even farmers using similar tactics before selling milk to the union of a major dairy in Karnataka,” sources added.