July 05, 2020
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In Gabbar's Land Why 'Doodh Pi Ke So Jaana' Can Be Deadly

Chambal is the breeding ground for illegally operated dairies that produce life-threatening milk-based products

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In Gabbar's Land Why 'Doodh Pi Ke So Jaana' Can Be Deadly
Photograph by Tribhuvan Tiwari
In Gabbar's Land Why 'Doodh Pi Ke So Jaana' Can Be Deadly

Remember the old dacoit joke? When children refused to go to bed at night, weary mothers would scare them, “Doodh pi ke so jao, nahin to Gabbar aa jayega” (Have your milk and go to sleep, otherwise Gabbar will be here). The joke may be stale by now but in Madhya Pradesh’s Chambal ­region, once the den of dreaded dacoits like Gabbar Singh, there is a new, scary story brewing around milk and dairy products. Chambal is now a breeding ground for illegally-operated diaries that produce artificial and potentially life-threatening milk-based products.

A series of raids, jointly conducted by the Special Task Force (STF) and food safety department of Madhya Pradesh, have unearthed and shut down more than half-a-dozen diaries with total daily production capacity of 2.5 lakh to 3 lakh litres of adulterated milk. The produce reached over 10 lakh people in several states, including Delhi, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Normally, it takes varying quantities of shampoo, oil, milk and water to produce synthetic milk. Besides, chemicals such as sodium thiosulfate and hydrogen peroxide along with other ingredients are also used to enhance the milk’s shelf life. Food supplement maltodextrin was also added to increase sweetness and thickness. “Sodium thio­sulfate and hydrogen peroxide kill all the bacteria present in milk and prolong its life, but it impacts our health adversely as these can damage the liver, kidney and other internal organs,” a quality analyst of the National Dairy Development Board says.

Delhi/NCR is also believed to be a hub of synthetic and adulterated milk. Bharatpur, Hathras, Meerut, Bulandshahar, Mathura produce huge quantities of synthetic milk to supply in Delhi and its neighbouring areas.

However, a countrywide survey in 2018 by the country’s apex food ­regulator, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), had ­concluded that “this problem is not serious”. And added that “it is ­restricted to few pockets and in some states. Hence, the country would be able to address this concern this targeted awareness-building activities and monitoring of primary production over a period of time.”

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