Lifestyle & Belief

Most milk in India contaminated with bleach, fertilizer, food safety regulator finds


A "holy cow" passes by a man in Vrindivan, India, during the Holi celebration, celebrated by people throwing colored powder and colored water at each other, and the animal population.


Majid Saeedi

Cows may be sacred in India, but their byproduct — milk —evidently is far from it.

During testing by the country's food safety regulator, 68 percent of milk samples from cows and buffalo were found to be contaminated with additives such as fertilizer, bleach and detergent, according to The National.

The study, conducted this month by the Food Safety and Standards Authority, found that the milk was also "diluted with water or sweeteners, fat, non-edible solids, glucose and skimmed milk powder to increase volume."

"Addition of water not only reduces the nutritional value of milk but contaminated water may also pose health risks," the study said.

However, the presence of the bleaching agent hydrogen peroxide and the fertilizer urea were "are far more serious," the report noted, and could lead to gastroenteritis and other intestinal ailments.

The regulator blamed a "lack of hygiene and sanitation in the milk handling," according to Reuters.


India has long struggled with adulteration of food and milk by unscrupulous traders... In December, an adulterated batch of bootleg liquor killed at least 125 drinkers in the eastern state. 

According to The National, India is one of the world's biggest producers of milk but struggles to meet domestic demand.

A national grid links more than 700 Indian cities and towns to the milk producers in the villagers. The processing and distribution of milk starts with dairy farmers across villages in India, who bring their daily supplies to a local collection center in their village.

The paper quoted one farmer from Binaural in the state of Uttar Pradesh, Michael Larry, as saying:

"We don't even know what we are drinking anymore. The milk the dairy farmers give to the collection centers in their respective villages is fair and good. But it is the greed of manufacturers, and because demand is so high, that they don't care about who drinks the milk and can add all these additives."

The states of West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand fared the worst, The National wrote, with not a single sample passing the tests and all samples found to be contaminated with detergent.

Random samples collected from only two states — Goa and Pondicherry — were found to be uncontaminated.