Samples of Mother Dairy milk from different outlets and supermarkets in the city have been found to contain harmful pathogens, Salmonella and E Coli bacteria and a Coliform count much above permitted levels. The Telangana State Food Laboratory(SFL), which conducted the test at the request of Balala Hakkula Sangham, furnished details of the data and samples of Mother Dairy milk in its report dated July 24 confirming the presence of harmful pathogens.
However, Mother Dairy rejected the findings and denied any knowledge of samples being collected. SFL food analyst AV Krishna Kumari in the report said: “I am of the opinion that the samples do not conform to the Coliform count standards and contain E Coli and Salmonella, which are pathogens and injurious to health. It is, therefore, unsafe.”
“We requested SFL to conduct a test for which we submitted milk samples on July 18 in sealed frozen gel packs,” BHS president Anuradha Rao said, adding that the samples were taken from Himayatnagar, Tarnaka, Habsiguda, Nallakunta and Gandhinagar areas. For its part, the company claimed that it maintained the highest quality of hygiene and refuted allegations. It categorically denied any adulteration of milk.
A city-based nutritionist Dr Sujatha Stephen, however, begged to differ and said, “Studies have found more than 80 per cent of milk in the city is adulterated. Since the number of milch animals have been decreasing rapidly, milk adulteration has increased manifold and what we are drinking is poison.” Stephen added that Salmonella is one of the most common causes of food poisoning.
Sources said adulteration of milk continues unabated as Section 272 (adulteration of food or drink intended for sale) of the IPC can rarely be established, allowing accused persons to resume business after lying low for a while. Section 272 of the IPC states: “Whosoever adulterates any article of food or drink so as to make such an article noxious shall be punished with imprisonment of either for a term which may extend to six months or with fine which may extend to Rs 1,000, or with both.”
Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha have already amended IPC sections making adulteration of milk an offence, which could attract a life term. Speaking about the seriousness of the issue, Anuradha Rao said, “it is cognisable, non-bailable and a trial can be carried out by the sessions court. Persons involved in this crime should be booked under attempt to murder. Section 272 of IPC should be amended on the lines of West Bengal and Odisha.
A nominal fine of Rs 1,000 fails to act as a deterrent,” said Anuradha, adding that selling spurious milk is an offence and is considered to be life-threatening as per Section 34 of Food Act. “A petition filed by the Sangham in July is now pending with the Lokayukta. We also brought this to the notice of GHMC, who in turn claimed that it will take time to look into the matter,” she said.