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DAIRY PRODUCTS

FSSAI to establish robust surveying method to ascertain quality of milk
Wednesday, 27 December, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Shraddha Joshi, Mumbai
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has initiated a plan to establish a robust surveying method for ascertaining the quality of essential commodities like milk. For this, the apex food regulator has requested expert agencies for proposals to conduct a nationwide survey for milk quality. This has been done to avoid any variation in the methodology and results.

The survey will focus on unsafe or adulterated milk. It is pertinent to mention that during the last survey, FSSAI was dependent on state government machinery and the results varied from state to state, and the methods adopted by the state machinery were also different from each other.

Pawan Kumar Agarwal, chief executive officer, FSSAI, said, “The previous survey was lacking in uniformity in surveying methodology. Also, we have to depend on the state machinery for surveying, and as a result, the outcome of the survey varies greatly.”

“We are now looking at doing it through third party, which will help in achieving a great degree of consistency in methods, and hence, the results will be more genuine. We are in the process of finalising the tenders and standards for surveying,” he added.

“We also want to focus on different commodities, once we have a system in place for third-party nationwide surveys as our experience in conducting such surveys utilising the state machinery is quite a mixed one,” Agarwal said.

As per FSSAI, the objective of the survey was to evaluate the current status of milk quality, disseminate information regarding testing protocols for detection of adulterants, create a network of stakeholders and enable target enforcement.

It foresaw that this survey will enable periodic monitoring of the milk quality across states and Union Territories (UTs) on a regular basis, while taking into consideration the possible impact of seasonal and demand-supply situation on the milk quality.

Instructions for FSOs
Food safety officers (FSOs) are required to follow a few instructions while conducting the sampling of milk samples. Samples shall be drawn as per the number of samples allocated to their jurisdiction from the organised as well as the unorganised sector.

One sample means one-litre milk (500ml each in two bottles). Preservatives and additives such as formalin can be used. Milk samples shall be kept in a box containing ice cubes. The sample shall be taken in the morning so it is not spoiled, and the analysis must be done the same day.

Tn ensure the necessary facilities to analyse milk samples on the 15 prescribed parameters suggested by FSSAI, the food laboratory must be notified a day in advance. A proforma must be filled after drawing the sample and forwarded to FSSAI after intimating to the nodal officer of the respective state. A separate proforma shall be used for each milk sample.

The following pointers are to be kept in mind by the laboratories while checking the samples:
    • The receipt of samples to the FSO must be acknowledged. The cap seal of the plastic bottle must be checked
    • The temperature in which the sample is received in the laboratory must be checked, and it must be kept in refrigerated conditions
    • The testing of samples must be started, and completed, as soon as possible after the receipt of the sample in the laboratory, preferably the same day as per FSSAI protocol
    • The testing must be carried out by trained staff under the supervision of an authoried signatory/lab in-charge
    • After completion of the testing, the authorised signatory should log on to the milk survey site using the allotted login id and password
    • A duly-filled test report form must be submitted online and a PDF copy of the test report must be generated through the site

A State-level Steering Committee has also been constituted by each state under the chairmanship of the state food safety commissioner, with the state milk commissioner, representatives of organised dairy industries in the cooperative and public sector, designated officers (DO), food safety officers (FSO), and any other representatives as felt suitable by the state food safety commissioners as members.

Throughout the survey, it should provide guidance to the states with the involvement of FSSAI. They should identify hotspot areas and conduct surveys focused on those areas. They can include or exclude the number of cities, depending on the availability of milk samples and where the chances of adulteration are high.

In 2016-17, FSSAI had conducted a national milk quality survey covering 110 cities in 32 states and Union Territories, in which about 1,700 samples were analysed qualitatively on 14 adulterants, fats and solid non-fats (SNF).

For the current survey, it is proposed that at least 8,000 samples be analysed qualitatively for 13 adulterants, along with pesticides, antibiotics and aflatoxin M1 covering each and every district of the country.

The 8,000 samples, that will be collected from 36 states and Union Territories covering all 717 districts with a minimum number of 10 samples from each district, would be from both the organised and unorganised sectors, including milk vendors, local dairy shops, local dairy farms and large milk mandis.

The 13 common adulterants that will be tested during sampling for qualitative and quantitative analysis are vegetable oil/fat, detergents/caustic soda, hydrogen peroxide, sugar, glucose, urea, starch, maltodextrin, boric acid, ammonium sulphate, nitrates, cellulose and neutraliser, pesticides and antibiotics.

Common standard operating procedures (SOPs) for testing and sampling would be followed across all the districts. The data collected will be uploaded on a milk quality monitoring portal on a weekly basis. Further, GPS and video monitoring system will be followed during sampling for online tracking.

With FSSAI giving considerable importance to detect common contaminants in milk and milk products, Karnataka Food Safety Commissionerate has been participating in the National Milk Survey which was carried out across the country.
Dr Harshavardan B, deputy commissioner food safety squad, Office of the Karnataka Food Safety Commissionerate said, “ Karnataka participated in this survey last year and this year between November 13-17 in six districts of city/corporation or BBMP areas at Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mangaluru, Belagavi, Hubballi and Kalaburagi. The milk samples were tested for fat, SNP and 13 adulterant parameters which includes urea, detergents and pesticides. The report on milk adulteration status is underway.”
Commenting on the common issue of milk adulteration across the country, Pallavi Darade, commissioner, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Maharashtra, said, “Milk is prime food, particularly for children and the elderly, and people always hear about adulteration in milk, synthetic milk, etc.”

“In Maharashtra, we can say proudly that no synthetic milk has been found in the state. only cases of adding water to milk have been found,” she added.

“We have drawn 1,861 samples of milk, out of which 1,144 conform to the standards laid down and 305 do not,” Darade said.

“There are also commodities like oil, mava and spices in which cases of adulteration have been found,” she added.

“We are drawing special inspections of the FBOs regularly on all levels. These include manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and petty vendors. For contraventions, we are launching prosecutions,” Darade said.

In the state of Gujarat, continuous drives are being undertaken every month, and a minimum of one sample of milk is checked every week.

Meanwhile, in the south, mass cases of milk adulteration have been registered. Dr Harshavardan B informed, “Five to six litre of adulterated milk come in from Erode, Tamil Nadu, every day.”

“Recently, we unearthed adulterated kova prepared in Kaveripattnam in Krishnagiri district, on the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border. We intend to raid more such premises, but the paucity of personnel is stalling these search and inspection operations.” he added.

“The lack of manpower and vehicles for food inspectors is preventing us from undertaking aggressive food safety inspections,” stated Dr Harshavardan.

(Inputs from Nandita Vijay)
 
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