A report compiled by Punjab’s authorities has revealed that around 70 percent of loose milk sold in urban Punjab contains harmful bacteria and chemicals.
The report, submitted to Prime Minister Imran Khan, states that 442 samples out of 601 were found to be unfit for consumption after testing. The samples, taken from Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan, Gujranwala, Bahawalpur, and Rawalpindi contained traces of detrimental harmful chemical compounds.
These compounds include ammonium sulfate, formaldehyde, hydrogen peroxide, urea and several toxins found in detergents. All these compounds are highly dangerous for human health, especially formaldehyde. Ingesting it can lead to blindness, stomach, and heart issues.
Not only this, but the water added to the loose milk to increase its volume also contained traces of numerous germs and bacteria, including coliforms, chemical, and organic pollutants.
The report also highlighted that the ‘adulteration mafia’ has been selling artificial powdered milk smuggled from Iran to fulfill the demand in cities. The PM was told that the mafia uses a laundry washing machine to mix this powder, ghee, and water for preparing the milk.
The manufacturing cost of this milk is Rs. 18 per kg but is being sold for Rs. 45 per kg to wholesalers. The wholesalers also take their share from this by increasing the price to Rs. 75 per kg for consumers.
The PM had directed to prepare a report after being alerted by senior health experts and parliamentarians regarding the health risks involved with the sale of adulterated loose milk in the province.
Pasteurization of Milk
After reviewing the report, Khan directed senior politician Jahangir Tareen to collaborate with Punjab authorities on a Turkey-inspired pasteurization policy. Turkey mandated the pasteurization of milk in 1995 while banning the sale of loose milk in 2008.
A committee comprising Tareen, Punjab food minister, several provincial government secretaries, and the Punjab Food Authority director general has been formed. The new policy will include labeling pasteurized milk in line with Punjab Pure Food Regulations 2018.
The government intends to give a five-year business adjustment period after the new policy takes effect.
Meanwhile, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Food Safety and Halal Food Authority have discarded 3,500 liters of adulterated milk in a snap checking at Peshawar Motorway.