FSSAI removes Ammonium Sulphate from the list of adulterants

FSSAI has removed ammonium sulphate from the list of adulterants, for which dairy plants were asked to conduct checks under the Scheme of Testing and Inspection.
The country’s apex food regulator, in this regard, issued a notice containing a revised list of adulterants to be tested under the said scheme, which has to be followed by dairy processing plants for monitoring of internal controls to ensure safe and good quality supply of milk and milk products to consumers.
The scheme was launched in October 2019, after the release of National Milk Survey.
A senior official with FSSAI said, “After a careful review of scientific opinion, the scientific group reached to a conclusion that ammonium sulphate may also come into the milk naturally, and may not be considered as a contaminant as earlier thought. It was noted that ammonium sulphate is allowed as an additive in certain foods in several countries.”
“Before releasing National Milk Safety and Quality Survey 2018, a meeting of stakeholders was held on September 9, 2019. This group of stakeholders was of the view that while incidents of adulteration cannot be ruled out, but these are restricted to few areas and in times when there is large demand-supply gap,” he added.
“Such incidents can only be tackled by having strict vigil in such areas. The stakeholders’ group further deliberated on presence of ammonium sulphate in milk,” the official stated.
Overall, the dairy plants need to test for nine physical, chemical/compositional parameters, 12 adulterants, four chemical contaminants and four microbiological contaminants, besides testing for water supply as per IS 10500.
Ashwin Bhadri, chief executive officer, Equinox Labs, said, “Ammonium sulphate in milk is natural and is deemed safe by FSSAI after considering scientific opinion. It is also used as an additive in certain food in several countries.”
He, however, pointed out that as the recent reports on the surging rate of adulteration in milk had disturbed the government as well as the dairy industry, the use of artificial ammonium sulphate was a worrying factor. It was used in order to increase the lactometer reading of milk and to decrease its lactose content.
According to FSSAI, the scheme for sampling, testing, and inspection for dairy processing plants was introduced to strengthen the internal controls through self monitoring and has to be implemented at all the dairy processing establishment and was in implementation from January 1, 2020.
The scheme stipulated the sampling points, test methods, frequency of sampling and permissible limit as per food safety regulations and called for a well-equipped in-house laboratory for testing microbiological and other chemical parameters, and testing shall be carried out by qualified and trained personnel.

Lab report confirms adulteration with dye in Yewale Tea

Battling the threat of adulteration and other food fraud

Besides adulteration, the food industry also faces misleading claims on labels, untrue brand narratives, unlawful food processing, fudged certification, unchecked food hoarding and wastage. Here’s how we can take steps to mitigate these crimes

Let’s start with a story that a colleague shared with me…
“Imagine a group of children eating their midday meals, lucky enough to get nourishment from milk, which otherwise they would not be able to afford. Here’s how milk may sometimes be ‘made’ for them, or for the general public…
“From full-fat buffalo milk, remove the milk fat, which has a good market by itself. Replace it with some vegetable oil and water, emulsifying the two with detergent – which gives it that nice frothy look. Add ammonium sulphate to increase the density, and melamine to increase the protein content. Next, add some urea to give it the body and colour it needs. (Don’t worry—I’m assured urea is a natural constituent of milk). Now add some caustic soda, and a little sugar to adjust for taste. There’s more we can do to make it even more affordable, but it’s a family recipe and this is all I can share.
The ill-gotten gains from such fraudsters are usually enough to pay the authorities (including people in my own department) and circumvent the law. Inevitably, they get away.”
It was depressing to hear how far people go for profiteering, but I felt grateful to the food safety officer who was sharing this frustration with me.
Over the years, I learnt that besides adulteration, there are also misleading claims on labels, untrue brand narratives, unlawful food processing (unapproved premises / unauthorised techniques), fudged food certification, unchecked food hoarding and wastage.
Wilful dishonesty in food production or supply that may be detrimental to consumers or overall public interest isn’t just food fraud…it’s a crime!
Ironically, our recollection of food scams and human suffering, including death that goes with them, is very short lived; as the memory dies, so does the culpability of the perpetrators.
Food crime erodes consumer trust and confidence in the system, the sector, and the nation at large. It eventually leads to loss of wealth for the business, the industry and the exchequer, and inevitably, to loss of jobs and reputation as well. If we agree that this is too heavy a price to pay, we must take a united stance to fight food crime.
The key to preventing or diminishing food crime, as with any other crime, is to mitigate the means, the motivation, or the opportunity to commit it. Basically, make it unthinkable or unattractive for Food Business Operators (FBOs) to cheat, at any stage in its supply chain. Difficult? Yes. But worth it.
Worldwide, there are two factors that override the moral compass of the FBO and drive him or her to food crime—the need for business survival (reducing business margins from intense competition), and the greedfor increasing profitability.
When legit FBOs face unfair competition from operators who use fraud to increase their margins, they’re forced to either quit or otherwise “play the game”. If they choose the latter, they inevitably transition from mere negligence in food safety to outright dishonesty.
Changing expiry dates to cut impending losses from products expiring shortly, is an example. Getting away with fraud like this emboldens operators to indulge in further unfair practices, until a point that they simply do not know where to draw the line anymore. Sad, considering the unofficial oath of an FBO is to never feed his customer something he wouldn’t eat himself.
So the first level of responsibility lies with the individual FBO himself; the next level with other FBOs within his supply chain; and the final level (when the first two fail), with food safety and law enforcement agencies administered by the government.
Counter fraud involves measuring the market impact of each food fraud and its financial benefit to its perpetrators. Based on this, resources of the food safety authorities and law enforcement agencies must be proportionately allocated, and punishment if any, proportionately assigned. Mined data must be used for future monitoring of FBOs.
The 110th report (2018) on the functioning of the Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) highlights some very candid findings of the committee (including the unholy nexus between corrupt food inspectors and unethical FBOs), and makes some fairly practical recommendations.
  • Public awareness campaigns about food crime and its impact
  • More technocrats rather than bureaucrats in the system
  • Strong F&B business intelligence and investigative capabilities
  • Food testing authorisation only to food laboratories accredited by NABL (National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories)
  • More whistle-blowers reporting food crimes
  • Zero-tolerance towards food criminality—by food safety officials and law enforcement agencies
Now we all know how very hard it would be to implement such recommendations, and we could simply shake our heads and lament. But I believe it would be best for F&B entrepreneurs and consumers to at least do whatever is within their control and take that first step—to be the change they want to see.
As Hakan Nesser suggests, “A crime is born in the gap between the morality of society and that of the individual”.

Consumer complaint : Dairylac – Adulterated Desi Cow Ghee

Consumer complaint as posted by Jagdish S Kashyap , Panchkula on Oct 28th in Indian Consumer Complaints Forum with photos 

I purchased 2 kgs of Desi Cow Ghee from Dairylac. I thought I have spent extra money and purchased a healthy food item. I used this Ghee to lit Diwali Diyas. To my utter shock, there was powdery residue in the Diyas. I just can’t fathom such a thing to happen with Desi Cow Ghee that too in this weather when day temperature is crossing 30 degrees.

It’s my request to people who are reading this that please don’t buy milk or milk products from these people. It’s not easy to test these food items and this company is hoodwinking people by their false promises. You are not only paying extra but also buy health problems by buying milk products from this company.

Jagdish Singh

adulterated desi cow gheeadulterated desi cow ghee

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Tea Board warning on adulteration

Attempt to colour leaf will be punished

The Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union had threatened to stop the dispatch of made tea from Thursday
Tea Board India on Friday warned of legal action against those adding colour to tea.
It said there was no provision for use of colour in tea and advised all stakeholders to follow the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) guidelines for not using any colour in tea, which leads to food safety, health, trade and quality problems.
FSSAI 2011 regulation 2.10.1 (1) on tea says, “The product shall be free from extraneous matter, added colouring matter and harmful substances.”
The board tested samples of a bought leaf factory in Assam which had used a yellow colouring substance and it will soon take action to cancel its licence.
The colouring agent is tartrazine, a synthetic lemon yellow azo dye primarily used in food colouring. It is sometimes used to give good colour to tea.
It said colour adulteration was strictly prohibited from the consumer’s health point of view and colouring of tea had gradually become a serious concern. Tea (finished product/made tea) occasionally contains extraneous colouring materials which are not allowed. It is called adulterant tea.
“There are occasional reports that sub-standard tea leaves were coloured with Bismarck brown, potassium blue, turmeric, indigo, plumbago and others to impart some favourite colour or glossiness to the product. Tea leaves which were damaged during manufacturing process or are of inferior quality are being treated with various colouring agents to improve their appearance and price. Colouring materials which are added to tea do not add any value to the product,” the Board said in a notice.
There are some colours which are non-toxic and permitted by FSSAI, and can be used in products like sweets and fruit juices. FSSAI permits use of eight synthetic colours in specific food items and tea is not included in that list.
It said black teas are usually treated with plumbago (black lead), also used in pencils, but there was no evidence that using it was deleterious to health. However, adding foreign matter to teas for the purpose of deception should be strongly discouraged. Scientific studies are required to evaluate the impact of using colour to health. Prussian blue is also used in colouring tea, which reports suggest was a toxic substance. Adulteration in tea leaves is usually done by treating processed leaves with a mixture containing Prussian blue, turmeric or indigo, among others.
The board said a simple screening test could help detect colour in tea. It involves use of a microscope where a portion of the leaves can be mounted as an opaque object where the colouring matter will appear in small dots. There are also some chemical methods to identify the colour in tea.
Adulteration can be also detected by simply rubbing a small quantity of tea between thumb and forefinger. Artificially coloured tea results in a bright stain when rubbed.
Another way is to fill a glass with cold water and put some tea on the surface. If the water colour changes immediately, it is certain that the tea has been dyed with soluble colours.

How to check sale of spurious and adulterated sweets ?

TN : Adulterated ghee – Consumers complain