A RECENT television show revealed the secret production and supply of ‘artificial’ or ‘synthetic’ milk to the people of Karachi. The technology of this questionable product has travelled from India and taken firm roots in suburban areas of Punjab and Sindh.
It is estimated that 15 to 20 per cent of total milk supplies in urban areas of Pakistan is from synthetic milk, i.e., two million litres a day.
The worst-case scenario is that this trend of preparation of synthetic milk is fast gaining its way in rural villages where dairy plants make huge purchases of milk for making blended packaged milk.
When this liquid is tested for butterfat or solid non-fat by government agencies or dairy professionals, it conforms to real milk parameters, thus passing a test for its purchase by dairy factories and testing authorities.
This milk is especially harmful for young children and pregnant women. It slowly makes the body prone to many ailments.
Besides the use of synthetic milk by many urban dwellers, the milk production from dairy animals is plagued by the use of synthetic hormone like bovine somatotrophin (BST) and oxytocin. Both these hormones are banned in the EU, Canada and many other countries. Even in India, oxytocin has been banned for the last 40 years.
In Pakistan, the use of somatotrophin is so prevalent that millions of cows/buffaloes are injected with this hormone to get an additional amount of milk at the cost of human and animal health.
Many health groups in the US claim that the use of growth hormones (BST) speeds up the development of antibiotic resistance and increases the level of protein that has been associated with cancer.
Keeping in view this concern, some of the producers of milk in the US are compelled to label their products with ‘No added growth hormones’.
Another hormone oxytocin which is injected on almost all lactating animals is filtered into the milk and it has been held responsible for uterine cancer, male impotence, baldness and early puberty in human beings. It is particularly harmful to the eyes of children.
This hormone in the shape of injection is used to let down milk under its influence. Millions of vials are sold by the pharmaceutical industry/animal health professionals daily to milk producers in Pakistan with the connivance of drug/health and livestock authorities.
No NGO or any government department has created awareness among the people about the use of such milk.
The health authorities should evolve simple testing procedures and dairy plants should be encouraged to buy only milk which is free from all such impurities.
Our Pure Food Act needs revamping. Besides, an exemplary punishment should be given to defaulters. NGOs’ role is of primary importance for creating awareness so that people should consume safe and wholesome milk only.
M. SAEED SIDDIQUI Karachi