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A farmer inspects the quality of milk. — File Photo by Reuters

More than 68 per cent of the milk sold in India does not match the standards set by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the Indian government told the Supreme Court in response to a petition seeking to analyse the sale of synthetic milk and an ambit of other dairy products.

The government told the court in its affidavit in which it referred to an assessment conducted by the FSSAI, which had established that over 68 per cent of the "non-conforming" milk was found in urban areas, out of which 66 per cent was loose milk.

According to the FSSAI's 2011 survey, water was found to be “the most common adulterant” and glucose and skimmed milk powder were added which resulted in being the main cause for “deviation from standards”. Detergent was also found mixed in some samples.

The affidavit was filed after the government was issued a notice on a public interest litigation (PIL) by a group of citizens, led by Swami Achyutanand Tirth of Uttarakhand. The PIL sought for an analysis and check on the sale of synthetic milk and other dairy products.

Notices were also issued to Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Delhi governments on a petition alleging that dairy products were being produced using “urea, detergent, refined oil, caustic soda and white paint” which, according to studies, are "very hazardous" to life and could lead to diseases like cancer.

The petitioners' counsel Anurag Tomar said that the affidavit was quiet on several aspects that supposedly refer to adulteration of dairy products.

The affidavit said that over 83 per cent of the “non-conforming” milk in rural areas was found to be “loose milk”. — Hindustan Times/Press Trust of India