A Tainted History: Here’s How You Can Identify Impure Milk in Pakistan

Everyone’s childhood must have the memory of being pushed by their mothers to go and get the milk from the milkman. Even though it still happens, the trend continues to fade since the dawn of packaged milk in 1981 in Pakistan.

Initially the idea of packaged milk was not so welcome, as fresh milk was considered more pure and free from all adulteration. A full-blown campaign was run as a series of TV advertisement in which it was demonstrated via fancy animations that extra layers of tetra pack saved milk from germs, sunlight, pollution, and other detrimental effects of external environment. What about the internal environment? What about the milk in it? Is it fit for use?

Given all this, milk adulteration sadly still exists in our country, even in packaged milk. And its time we were aware of it and knew how to identify it.

Media Reports

Milk adulteration was first exposed on Dunya News in the program Hasb-e-Haal on 10th April 2010 in which the milk adulterants were revealed. The white milky liquid which we referred to as milk can have vegetable oil, detergent, Carboxymethyl cellulose(CMC), Urea, Caustic Soda and God forbid Formalin as preservative.

Following that report, there were days when headlines like Packaged milk: Hazardous to health” could be seen often on every news channel.

Alas! The case couldn’t go further than a media trial and died in that process.

Proper Investigation

It was on 1st September 2016 when this long-forgotten issue was raised from the dead when Barrister Zafarullah Khan, representing Watan Party, filed a civil petition No.2374-L/2016 in the Supreme Court of Pakistan against the government of Punjab.

Court’s detailed 8th Dec 2016 order can be downloaded from here.

A two-member bench comprising of Justice Mian Saqib Nisar (now the Chief justice of Pakistan) and Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik heard the case. The petition was motioned to request chemical analysis of the milk sold in the market.

In pursuant of the case, orders were issued dated 15th & 16th September 2016 to University of Veterinary & Animal Sciences (UVAS), University of Faisalabad (UAF) and Pakistan Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (PCSIR) to do a chemical analysis of Packaged milk & water samples and submit sealed reports of their findings.

Read More: Majority of Packed Milk Brands are Hazardous to Health

In a recent hearing on 8th Dec 2016 the above-mentioned organizations submitted their reports to the Supreme Court. The disturbing findings depicted the horrendous act in which milk mafia is involved.

As per their report no packaged milk is fit for consumption except 1 or 2 brands although the detailed contents of the milk adulterants are not exposed at this point.

The civil petition status can be checked from the Supreme Court Website here. 

A Lesson for the Public

“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” as Alexander Pope suggested and in the light of the Supreme Court report it is now an obligation on all of us to equip ourselves regarding knowledge of food adulteration and how to spot it.

Food adulteration can be known for debasing the quality of food by adding or substituting admixture of inferior quality or by removing the valuable nutrients from the food products.  The substandard items which are added to food items for commercial benefits are food adulterants.

Such substances contaminate the food and make it unfit for consumption.

Purpose of Adulteration

Many of us know that milk packaging companies, prior to procurement of milk from dairy farms, test milk samples as a pass out parameter. One of the tests is carried out by a vessel-like device named lactometer.

Lactometer is used to measure milk viscosity. Pure milk will have greater viscosity than water. On the other hand, milk’s temperature, S.N.F(Solid Not Fat) and total solid content determines its nutritional quality. The Total Solid content residue left when water is evaporated from the milk contains fats, proteins, lactose and minerals.

The question here is that how making milk unfit for consumption is in favor of most dairy farmers?

The answer lies within simple economics: they do it to gain financial benefits on the cost of public health as they get to sell 2 liters of “milk” at the price of 1 liter.

Adulterants like Urea, Starch, CMC, Detergents, Formalin, caustic soda, and unhygienic water have detrimental effect on human health.

Hazards of These Ingredients

Adulterants like Urea, Starch, CMC, Detergents, Formalin, caustic soda, and unhygienic water have detrimental effect on human health.

Their use serves various purposes like water is used to increase milk volume e.g. gaining two liters out of one liter. Starch which is mainly used to make cloth’s iron last longer or its widely used as a diluting agent in pharmaceuticals, and Carboxy Methyl Cellulose(CMC), which is one of the inactive ingredients used in medicine are mixed to make up the carbohydrate content of the milk and to increase its viscosity so that it can mask away any hint of water dilution.

The use of these aforementioned items is not justifiable although they are often ingested, granted the intake quantity is debatable. On the other hand, substances like Urea, which is a fertilizer used to increase or make up the protein content of the milk so it can pass testing, formalin used as a preservative which is used in labs to preserve living tissues so we can get a fair idea that how much it can increase the shelf life of the milk and caustic soda used in dish washing soaps is used to prevent milk from curdling.

All these adulterants have terrible effects on our body no matter how small the quantity. For instance, daily intake of urea puts an extra burden on the kidneys as apart from cleaning the urea produced by our body, kidneys will also be removing extra urea taken via the milk. Starch is added in large quantity and can be fatal to the people with impaired glucose tolerance and diabetics. On the other hand, formalin and detergents are reason for gastric ulcers, gastritis and kidney failure.

Failure of Punjab Food Authority

The authority which is responsible to check the quality of food is the Punjab Food Authority (PFA). However, they didn’t manage to curtail this practice of impure milk sold by many brands.

As per a report published in The News on 30th December 2016, PFA failed to take even a single sample of milk & water from Rawalpindi dairies despite the Supreme Court orders. Although DG PFA, Noor-ul-Amin Mengal claimed that total of 113 water and 30 milk samples were collected from Lahore, Faisalabad, Gujranwala and some other parts of the Punjab.

In Rawalpindi/Islamabad there are dairy farms at Soan Girji Road, Tarnol, Rawat, Kalar Road, Adiala Road, Chakri, Chak beli khan Road, Chakra, Gorakhpur where milkmen are adulterating the milk and samples should also be collected from these farms.

How to Identify Dangerous Milk

It doesn’t matter if the milk is sold as packaged or it is supplied from one of the dairy farms, its purity cannot be guaranteed in either case.

Until consumers get the full chemical analysis report on the milk samples there are a few simple tests which can done be at home to unveil the truth especially if using any of the brands declared unfit in the Supreme Court report except Prema® milk.

Here’s what you can do to test milk for impurities in a simple manner:

  1. Slanting Test –Put a drop of milk on a polished slanting surface. The drop of pure milk flows slowly leaving a white trail behind it, whereas milk containing water will flow instantly without leaving a mark.
  1. Blue Test – Add a few drops of tincture of Iodine which is available in everyone first Aid box. Presence of Starch will result in appearance of blue color.
  1. Litmus Test – Take a teaspoon of milk sample in a small container. Add half teaspoon of soybean or arhar powder. Shake the container. After 5 mins, dip a red litmus paper. The color change from red to blue will indicate the presence of Urea.
  1. Lather Test – Shake 1-2 teaspoons of milk sample with an equal amount of water. Lather indicates the presence of detergent.
  1. Khoya Test- Take 500 ml of sample milk. Heat it till it turns in a rubbery mass. Adulterated milk mass is dry while pure milk mass is shinny and non-sticky.
  1. Artificial Test – One can smell and taste the soapiness in the milk while drinking it. Synthetic milk is bitter in taste, gives a soapy feeling on rubbing between the fingers and turns yellowish upon heating.

These tests will help you identify impure milk without getting it tested from any labs.

Milk being a vital portion of our food intake, its use is necessary even after awareness of its impurity. Regrettably, we as a consumer don’t have much of a choice except to own a cow!

It is hoped that the authorities act now instead of letting the market play havoc with people’s health.

  • Now this is the quality content we expect from propakistani.
    Keep up the good work and avoid clickbaits.

  • So is milk”great” in your beloved leaders province kpk, or Sindh or balochistan?????? Shame on this so called writer, who just is so biased while writing. Shame!!!

  • The Government should be advised to all of us that which Milk Company or Which Milk Pack are 100% pure & secure to drinking then we can buy healthy and best Milk by to them without hesitation.

  • And One more thing “The report status of the case can be checked from the Supreme Court Website here.”
    Report NOT FOUND ….

      • sorry dear you kno nothing. real milk, even if not boiled, can stay fine, even in open air, for at least 4 hours. I bring milk from a cattle farm every weekend. Its a 6 hour drive. And my car has no AC. Whether weather is hot or cold or humid, milk did not go sour even once.
        Companies and shops are selling bs in our cities.

  • Pro Pakistani,It is good job I appreciate your positive efforts. We must now share for the common people to understand.

  • It would be really nice if we all can share the results if we perform any of the mentioned tests. I will insha’Allah.

  • In Europe people use fresh milk delivered by companies door to door. We are lived in agriculture based country and companies promote processed milk for use through media advertisement.

    • Brother, You Should be live in Europe, Ticket katao Europe Jao.
      Why you are living here :

      Don’t forget :
      We are Pakistani’s & No Body giving us facilities as like Europe or internal standard.

  • According to then submitted reports,
    dairy brands like Nestle Milk pack, Haleeb, Nurpur Milk, Dayfresh and
    Adam Milk contained heavy metals and chemical that were dangerous for
    human health.

    Previously, a report of the PCSIR filed with the court stated that
    except Haleeb, all UHT (ultra-high-temperature) standardized milk is fit
    for consumption, while all pasteurized milk brands except Prema are
    unfit for human consumption.

    According to these reports Olpers should be fine to consume for now..

    Haleeb is the most dangerous of all of them using formaldehyde which was used to preserve dead bodies in Egypt.. Owners should be hanged

  • i have taken 100% pure milk in 2 years of my life when my brother friend owned a cattle farm, used to boiled that milk 3 times (sunnat way) to kill all germs and smell, if you ever tasted that milk you will say “did you mixed sugar in it?” and in monsoon season grass used to grown on mountaineer area, when cows consumed that greenery the milk sweetens more without any preservatives without flavor; its aroma ahh – Sadly 90% population is deprived of it. now shifted to karachi even worse

    • I second that. Real milk is naturally sweetened. In our village, people drink it directly from cow’s teats and are 10 times healthier than urban elite like us.

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