108 samples tested as part of an awareness campaign on food adulteration
Traces of detergent were found in one of the 108 milk samples tested by Food Safety and Drug Administration department as part of an awareness campaign on food adulteration organised here on Thursday.
Speaking to the media, Collector K. Veera Raghava Rao, who inaugurated the campaign earlier in the day, said that the sample was collected by a Field Officer of FSDA from a consumer, although he did not elaborate on where the consumer had bought the milk.
Sources in FSDA department, however, said that the consumer, who resided in Kochadai, had bought the milk from a neighbourhood vendor, who supplied raw milk (not pasteurized).
Stating that the testing equipment used by FSDA indicated that further tests were required to confirm presence of soda, bicarbonate or detergent, Mr. Rao said that a ‘legal sample’ would be collected from the place where the consumer had bought the milk.
“By ‘legal sample,’ we mean that the sample will be collected as per specifications and without contamination. The sample will be sent to a laboratory with necessary infrastructure,” he said. If adulteration was confirmed, he added, criminal proceedings would be initiated against those involved.
Officials from FSDA indivitedthat the sample that was tested being a contaminated one was also a possibility. “For instance, if the consumer had kept the milk in a vessel that was not rinsed properly, the detergent present in the vessel may show up in the milk sample,” an official said.
As part of the campaign, which was organised near K. Pudur bus stand, samples brought by the public and those collected by field officers of FSDA were tested. Mr. Rao said that 11 samples were found to be sub-standard since the fat content in them was less than 3.5 %.
The testing, for which a sample of 300 ml was needed, was a two-step process, FSDA officials said. The samples were first tested for fat, solids-not-fat (SNF) and water, followed by another test for adulteration. The tests were conducted using a kit, named electronic milk adulteration testing (EMAT) unit.
Chennai: In the wake of state minister KT Rajenthra Balaji’s charge that private firms in the state were adulterating milk with toxic chemicals, the Tamil Nadu government has sent samples to the Central Food Laboratory in Pune for a detailed analysis.
The referral laboratory for the region received four samples from the office of the commissioner for milk production and dairy development in Madhavaram on May 31, lab director Suhas Bakre said. “It will take two weeks for us to test and send the report to officials in the state. We will be testing the milk for fat content, chemicals and other substances. The results will be sent by June 20,” he said.
In May, dairy development minister Rajenthra Bhalaji said his department suspected that carcinogenic substances were being added to milk by private manufacturers. “These chemicals are available freely in cities like Chennai, Madurai, Trichy and Coimbatore. In Chennai, these chemicals can be purchased for Rs 20 from Flower Bazaar. They are mixed with milk to increase shelf life,” he said.
Although Bhalaji stated last month that the government had sent samples to the Pune lab, officials at the lab told TOI on May 28 that the last time they received samples from Tamil Nadu was in June 2016. A sachet of whole milk produced by a private firm was sent to the laboratory by the designated officer in Erode for testing “fat” content. “The sample failed the test and we sent the report to the officer concerned. There were no toxic chemicals in it,” Bakre said. Three days later, the lab received samples from the state government.
An official in the dairy department, who refused to speak on record, said some milk samples were tested by Aavin. “We detected the presence of chemicals in it but we can’t file cases or initiate action against the manufacturers because these samples were tested in our lab. Besides being a conflict of interest, the food safety rules don’t permit us to initiate action until they are tested in a central lab,” he said.
Authorities accuse a few packaged water units of flouting norms to draw groundwater; manufacturers flag clearance certificates.
Though the Tamil Nadu packaged drinking water manufacturers have withdrawn their strike, authorities are said to be at loggerheads with them over depleting groundwater level, putting the availability of canned drinking water in question in the long run.
While the association members say that a total of 350 packaged drinking water manufacturing units operate in Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts, sources claim that around 200 illegal units are also run by people with political clout. However, V Murali, president of Greater Tamil Nadu Packaged Drinking Water Manufacturers Association, told DTNext that all the units have obtained the environmental clearance apart from certificates from Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
“In such a condition, why should the concerned officials pressurise us to close the units. Lakhs of people rely on canned water not only in the city, but across the state. Is curbing the availablity of a life essential to save groundwater level justified?” he asks. While the officials claim that they have only instructed some units that overexploit groundwater and flout the norms to abide by, the association members accuse officials of being discriminatory and claim that they are being threatened to shut down the units without a valid reason.
According to Murali, manufacturers draw water of about 300 million litres a day from 350 units in Chennai region. “Though we have necessary licences from all the departments, sometimes the officials try to close down units for reasons best known to them,” he says. However, Shankar, Chief Engineer of Ground and Surface Water Resources Wing, justifies the department’s action.
“There are some norms, which the drinking water manufactureres do not conform to. We have been periodically instructing such units not to overexploit groundwater beyond prescribed levels and it is monitored through a water meter. But some companies flout the rules and we along with Revenue officials insist the manufacturers to close such units,” he elaborates. He also adds that the PWD is preparing to monitor the units in Chennai region and would ask the manufacturers without a licence not to tap water anymore.
Shankar says the groundwater level can be maintained if such units located near lakes and rivers without licences are closed. R Kathiravan, Designated Officer, FSSAI, Chennai, says that there are 17 packaged water manufacturing units in the city alone. “We regularly monitor them and if we find the water to be unfit for consumption, we immediately ask the manufacturers to stop processing. After tapping the water, the manufacturers should do the purification process promptly. Some companies would not maintain the equipment properly and in such a scenario there is a possibility for water contamination. So, the manufacturers should be careful during the entire process of purification,” he says.
Kathiravan adds that regular inspections are conducted to check potability of canned water.
7 to 10 lakh cans of water are supplied to Chennai households on a daily basis
Total number of units in Chennai region: 350
50% of drawn water goes waste in the purification
No of illegal unit: 200