It was yet another shocking news when the monitoring conducted by Department of Food, technology and Quality Control recently revealed that 13 out of approximately 400 dairy companies were producing substandard dairy products. Only 26 dairy companies were found to be producing dairy products maintaining the international standard. The consumption of milk and other dairy products declined substantially the following day and remained for days.
According to the data provided by DFTQC, there has been whopping increase in food adulteration in the past three years. The percentage of food adulteration in 2010 was 15.6 percent that rose to 19.3 percent in 2011 and in 2012, the percentage escalated to 20.8 percent. The department took 440 samples and among them, 75 samples were labeled substandard.
DFTQC has been categorizing and testing all the food products on the basis of their risk factors. Speaking with TexasNepal.com, Jiwan Prava Lama, Director General at DFTGC said, ‘the adulteration is much higher in liquid products in comparison to solid foods. The liquid products such as water and milk are such products that are consumed higher.’ According to the categorization, the level of SNF, Solid Not Fat, in milk should be eight percent whereas fat should be 3% and the Coliform should be nil. If this standard is not met or is inconsistent then the product is counted to be substandard. The recent monitoring team identified higher count of Cloriform thus, labeled ‘substandard’. The issue of mixing caustic soda and urea in milk is rising recently.
The adulteration in milk is not just fresh news because many years before, milk product under the brand name ‘Lactogen’ was found to be the main reason behind children that suffered from diarrhea. Consumers should not always go after cheap food products and the government should conduct more frequent monitoring drives.
While the adulteration is alarming, the consumers should also concentrate towards the safest way of maintaining the standard of milk as well. The country is continuously reeling under the grip of hours-long load shedding where certain temperature for the milk cannot be maintained. Milk should be stored in refrigerator at optimum temperature and before consuming it, it should be boiled to kill bacteria.
Consumers are getting both the national and international milk products and for this, the government has set up criteria for such imported products to have label in English or Nepali script. The monitoring is undertaken at custom point where products without labels are disposed. This means that the adulteration is found especially in domestic milk products and the monitoring drives are not enough in the domestic markets.
The country also has the provision of punishment for marketing food products which are labeled substandard. The Food Act 1967 can slap a fine of Rs 1,000 to Rs 5, 000 or a penalty of 6 months jail term for the offender undertaking marketing of such products. The offender has to pay Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 and bear 2 years jail term if the food is found to be unhygienic. Similarly, The Consumers Protection Act has guaranteed the right to information about quality of food and the perpetrators of food adulteration have to pay 500 thousand rupees and a 5 years jail term.
Whilst the consumers should be careful before consuming milk, the government should conduct frequent monitoring drives and slap the punishments strictly.