When a child wakes up in the morning, the first thing he gets from his mother is a glassful of milk on the breakfast table. Milk is the answer to all the nutrition worries of a mother who remains perturbed on finding her child discarding vegetables when served either on his plate or in his tiffin box.
With a production capacity of 540 million litres of milk per year and a contribution of 17% in the world milk production, India is the largest producer of milk as per NDDB.
To meet the demands of a country which has a population of over 134 crores, cattle farmers in India are tuning in to mass production of Milk. Many dairy brands desirous of generating maximum profits fall in the vicious pit of manufacturing adulterated dairy products.
According to a nationwide sampling survey done by FSSAI, it collected 6,432 milk samples from local dairy farmers, milk mandis, and vendors. Though 93% of the milk samples were rendered to be safe, the results of the other 7% were quite alarming. There were toxic chemical compounds in the milk samples tested. What was more worrying was that these milk samples were found to be more contaminated with toxic compounds, such as Aflatoxin, Urea, antibiotic residues, detergents and others. Such contaminants tend to remain in processed milk, in higher probability, despite having undergone several levels of processing and checks by the organised sector. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, Aflatoxin has been classified as a poisonous substance mainly carcinogenic in nature produced by certain kinds of fungi. The fungi growth is accelerated due to improper storage in humid and warm conditions. They can contaminate food crops and pose a serious health threat to humans and livestock. Aflatoxin M1 in milk and milk products is a public health concern, especially in infants and young children, as milk constitutes one of the major sources of nutrients. According to the World Health Organisation, exposure to Aflatoxin M1 in milk and milk products is especially high in areas where the grain quality used as animal feed is poor.
Also, the presence of antibiotic residues in dairy products is a big concern and can be attributed to practices implemented for maximising dairy production. Veterinary drugs are fed to the cattle to make them resilient to diseases. However, these antibiotics tend to remain as residue in the milk and can be fatal for humans, as they can make us antibiotic-resistant. The challenge here is that farmers aren’t really aware of the permissible limits of administering antibiotics in cattle.
India’s population is increasing by the day and so is the dairy demand. Big dairy brands wanting to be undisputed leaders in the sector would obviously want their dairy production to be maximised – and cattle health is of paramount importance. Therefore, the government should set a regulatory framework in place to control antibiotic abuse in dairy produce.
From an agriculture perspective, farmers, while cultivating cattle fodder, should be educated properly about the storage conditions and hygiene to keep crops fresh and dry.
Samarth Setia, CEO & Co-Founder, Mr. Milkman