India is all set to get new national safety guidelines for milk soon, which was last set up 62 years ago in 1954.
Under the current guidelines only milk from cow, sheep, buffalo and goat is considered milk.
The new guidelines will standardise outdated benchmarks that determine adulteration and also include sources such as camel and yak and incorporate flavoured and fortified milk.
Talking about the new safety standard Pawan Agarwal, CEO, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said:
“There is a need to revisit old standards to ensure people eat and drink quality food. We have adopted a three-pronged strategy, in which setting new standards is one component. The other two being commissioning a national-level survey to measure the quality of milk India is drinking and identify problem areas.”
The old standard guidelines classify close to 70% of milk sold in India as adulterated under standards set for fat and solid non-fat (SNF) content 60 years ago.
SNF also includes vitamins and mineral content and vary from state to state, which is what the new guidelines change. The lack of a standard guideline, according to
experts, has been a problem. If one is not conforming to fat standards, it is not classified as health hazard in one state while it might be in other. It thus would not be considered adulteration.
There is also the issue of hybrid cattle and environmental changes, which makes old standards useless.
According to an FSSAI official:
“Why should someone be persecuted if his or her cow or buffalo is producing milk with lower fat content than the permissible limit?”
Further there other factors that need to be seen, like adding water to milk is considered adulterated. What one gets may be non-conforming to set standards, but is still essentially safe to drink.
With milk now being sourced from one state to another, the old standard is being rendered useless as there is no point in having different standards for different states. The new standards will thus bring uniformity to the criteria, with 8.5% being recommended benchmark for SNF and 3.2% is being considered for fat in milk as tentative cut-off.