Milk adulteration in PakistanFaking Milk or Milk Adulteration means debasing the quality of milk by admixture, inferior substances or by removal of the valuable ingredient from it. It is mostly, intentional addition, substitution or subtraction of substances which adversely affect its nature, substances and quality but also its incidental contamination during the period of source growth, milking, storage, processing, transport, and distribution.

This is done through “Adulterants” which are employed for “making” milk, increase its quantity by affecting its standard, misbranding and through extraneous matters. In this way, the milk’s quality depreciates and injuriously affected, cheaper or inferior substances substitute the milk’s real, valuable and necessary constituents. The constituents are wholly or partly abstracted, and additive colors and criminal treatments improve its appearance to look like real.

Pure milk is of high food value since its composition is a collection of such nutrients which are highly essential for balanced growth and maintenance of body energy. Due to abrupt and uneven addition in the world population, especially in the developing and third world countries, its demand has arisen in a similar fashion. The supply, however, has not matched the demand and its difference with demand are huge. To meet this demand, some unscrupulous producers have indulged themselves in milk fraud.

The criminal fraud is increasing because food safety authorities not only have no interest in curbing this menace but also the fraudsters are technologically advanced than the more resourceful authorities. Another plus for the mal-practitioners is that their customer, the common man has no knowledge to check or challenge them at all.

Decades ago, the only possible adulterant to milk was known as water, and even today a majority of us is unable to think beyond water, but now those who add clean water as adulterant are super honest. The addition of clean water is no more considered as adulteration because of the fact that usage of contaminated water, preferably from sewage to increase the milk’s thickness can have worse consequences.

Necessarily, pathogens and chemicals are added to satisfy the milk’s feel, presenting incurable diseases and health risks for the consumers. To the fake milk, cheaper and inferior materials including reconstituted milk powder, Sugar, Melamine, Formalin, Caustic Soda, detergents, Vanaspati Ghee, Ammonium Sulphate, Salt, Hydrogen Peroxide and much other life-threatening substances are added.

Pakistan is the second country in the world where more than 70 percent of the milk is contaminated

Multiple types of research have shown that after India, Pakistan is the second country in the world where more than 70 percent of the milk is contaminated. (Xiu and Klein 2010; Faraz and others 2013; Shaikh and others 2013; Mu and others 2014; Singuluri and Sukumaran 2014). In Pakistan, due to certain factors, the demand for milk is rising on daily basis. This includes urbanization, population growth, increased public knowledge about protein-rich food, availability of more dairy products in the retail sector, the better economic position of masses and many others.

Milk Adulterants in Pakistan

Barham a food technologist from India, visited Lahore in 2014, collected samples and shared his research that was completed, published and reported widely. It stated that out of 100 samples taken, the most common adulterant (73%) was water followed by detergent (32%), cane sugar (22%), caustic soda (20%), and rice flour (17%).

The most common adulterant in Pakistan is water (73%) followed by detergent (32%), cane sugar (22%), caustic soda (20%), and rice flour (17%)

The level of adulteration at dairy shops, milk collectors, and middlemen was found to be greater than at the processors and milk producers, but Abdul Hameed Soomro, another researcher from Sindh, talked to MORE and shared different results in Sindh. His research shows that the adulteration of extraneous water in milk was found to be: producer (60%), collector (53.5%), vendor (62.7%), and dairy shops (56.9%).

But the most shocking results came in 2013 from the research of Ahmad Faraz, a scholar at Faculty of Animal Husbandry, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad. Faraz shared his research paper with MORE. He collected 60 samples of unprocessed market milk from canteens of educational institutes and public places. 67% of all the samples reported the presence of soil. 97% and 93% of the samples obtained from canteens of educational institutes and public places were adulterated with water. Adulteration with urea was reported in 63% and 87% of samples. Adulteration with formalin was reported in 23% and 27% of samples, while cane sugar was in 87% and 97% of samples. Hydrogen peroxide was also found in 3% of samples from public places. We are talking about Manchester of Pakistan, Faisalabad here.

Dr. Saeed Akhtar, a renowned food scientist, and researcher in his last year research reported that in Pakistan, 80% of the total milk sold in packages or in bulk is being adulterated. He also reported that most of the water being added for the purpose of milk adulteration is typically muddy instead of clean tap water. This is being done to increase density and maintain the viscosity of the milk, therefore posing a further and serious risk to human health.

In Pakistan 80% of the total milk sold in packages or in bulk is being adulterated

Dr. Shabbir Ali, a veterinary doctor at a local animal hospital, talked to MORE and said that the practice of treating dairy animals with different drugs that forcedly increase the production of milk is a most practiced phenomenon these days. The use is so excessive that even the pure milk’s contaminated with these hazardous drugs. Due to this, the consumers are developing drug resistance, allergic reactions to milk in children, vomiting, diarrhea and enteritis.  

How to check Milk Adulteration?

However, behold, we are trying to educate you a little and develop your interest in Milk Safety Tests (MSTs). Following are the test treatments to different milk adulterants.

Milk Safety Tests
Milk Safety Tests

These are not the only adulterants that are added to prepare the quality depreciated, and fake milk but Sugar, Sodium Bicarbonate, Boric acid, extraction of fat, Blotting paper, and Coal Tar Dyes can also be found in it. Due to this, fake milk is usually capable of passing all quality and lactometer tests, and it becomes almost impossible to detect the adulteration or differentiate fake from pure.

DG, Punjab Food Authority, Noor-ul-Ameen Mengal while commenting on the situation said that the authority would never spare those involved in mixing adulterants and life threatening chemicals to milk, a gift of God, he added. “This is a long-standing problem and cannot be solved at once. It will take time”. “We are registering milk shops these days and around 3000 in Lahore are registered with us”. When asked if the authority is sure that the milk of these shops is pure? He answered, “we test repeatedly and are trying to ensure that safe milk is being sold in our jurisdiction.”

Milk!! is it pure? No one is sure.