On the occasion of ‘National Milk day’ on 26th November 28, 2019, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) made public its Action Plan for ensuring supply of Safe and Quality Milk and Milk Products.
The Survey Report on Milk Safety and Quality had showed that only 7 (seven) percent of the milk samples surveyed had adulterants that rendered the milk unsafe for human consumption. A total of 1048 samples had been collected, and analysis of 399 of them did not reveal presence of any bacterial pathogens, nor any heavy metals, although adulteration with vegetable fats was noticed.
Based on the results of the Survey, a 12-point Action Plan was drawn up to ensure safety and quality of milk and milk products throughout the Country.
The areas covered were
- Testing and continued surveillance
- Preventive and corrective action for implementation and monitoring, and
- Consumer engagement.
With a view to upgrade testing infrastructure, rapid testing and high-end precision test equipment have been delivered to States and the UTs. FSSAI has also notified the concerned NABL accredited Laboratories for Primary, Regulatory and Surveillance testing and these can be used by the States and the UTs in addition to their own laboratories.
As antibiotic and other residues are still the major contaminants in milk, it is proposed to undertake preventive and corrective action by capacity building at the primary production levels by means of focused training programs in areas of animal husbandry, animal health and feed and nutrition.
The quality issues in milk mostly related to the proportions of fat and solid non-fat (SNF) and these were found to be varying widely, depending on the species, the breed as well as the quality of feed and fodder. The Action Plan proposed to tackle this through adoption of good farm practices, including improved feeding of cattle.
Even for processed milk, the Survey had revealed serious quality and safety concerns. FSSAI has tackled this issue by developing a Scheme of Testing and Inspection (STI) which has since been released to all concerned and it is expected that the Dairy Processing Plants will adopt and implement these for the purpose of monitoring and self-compliance throughout their production chain. This would help strengthen internal controls.
FSSAI has advised the Dairy Plants to fortify the Milk and Milk Products with Vitamins A and D to replenish the losses during processing. This would also address issue of micronutrient malnutrition.
FSSAI will also undertake a countrywide program to build consumer awareness regarding safety and quality of milk by dissemination of about the DART Book as well as details of simple tests to performed at home to check adulteration in milk. A Consumer guidance note on milk products detailing hygienic and safe practices for handling of milk products is also to be released. A special Project to promote such awareness among the farmers in Punjab has been undertaken and the results of this pilot scheme will be replicated throughout the Country.
For the unorganized sector which has a major share of the milk supply, FSSAI has proposed to launch a “Verified Milk Vendors Scheme”, by which milk vendors can register. Apart from bringing them under the overall program by issue of ID Cards, they will also be issued with instruments such as lactometer. They would then be given training in observing clean milk practices by carrying out periodic sampling and testing of the milk collected by them. Food Safety Mitras will be encouraged to register such vendor at nominal cost.
In order to effectively implement the Action Plan, FSSAI proposes to organize regional workshops, in collaboration with other agencies such as Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (DAHD), NDDB, NDRI as well as the Food safety Departments of the States and the UTs.