Almost all milk brands distributed in the state, including Milma, have a very high presence of E coli, members of consumer rights forum Centre of Indian Consumer Protection and Research (COINPAR) told a press conference here on Thursday. The E coli bacteria is responsible for various food-borne diseases.
However, Milma rejected the claim outright saying that there were gross violations of procedures in the study. “The samples were taken under hygienic conditions. We will be forced to take legal action against those who spread falsehood that tarnishes our reputation,” said a Milma official.
When probed, COINPAR members admitted to transferring the samples from the company packets to bottles before handing them over to the testing lab. Milma authorities say this could have caused the contamination that resulted in the pretentious test results.
“Unless we keep the brand of the items being sent for testing confidential, the lab tends to give us standardised results,” said COINPAR general secretary M A Wahab.
Meanwhile, food safety commissioner T V Anupama told TOI that the department conducts tests on various brands of milk, including Milma, on a monthly basis and has never got results similar to that of COINPAR. “Apart from that, Milma too submits samples of milk from every district which are tested on a monthly basis. E coli was never detected in these samples,” she added.
Coliform and E coli bacteria is usually killed during the pasteurisation of milk. But its presence in pasteurised milk points to possible contamination in the pipes and during the packing process at the production facilities, said Wahab. Addition of unhygienic water to the milk for dilution can also lead to bacterial contamination, he added.