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India: 12-point action plan for safety of dairy products

In order to ensure quality milk and milk products, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has come up with a 12-point action plan that will ensure safety as well as quality of milk and milk products.

This comes after the FSSAI survey concluded that nearly 7% of the milk in the country had contaminants or adulterants that rendered consumption of milk unsafe.

However, the survey did not find the presence of any heavy metal contaminants, but said that microbiological concern found relates to poor hygiene while no bacterial pathogens have been found.

FSSAI also said that 12-point focus on testing and continued surveillance; preventive and corrective action for implementation and monitoring; and, consumer engagement.

Photo: Penn Communicatie/Marten Sandburg
Photo: Penn Communicatie/Marten Sandburg

Under the action plan, FSSAI has decided to provide rapid testing and high-end precision test equipment to States and union territories (UT).

The authority also said that it has also notified the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) and accredited private and other public food laboratories for primary, regulatory and surveillance testing, that these can be used by the States or UTs to complement testing by the state laboratories.

Contaminant in milk

In the survey 399 samples out of total 1048 raised quality and hygiene concerns in milk products. Aflatoxin-M1 and antibiotic residues have emerged as the main contaminant in milk.

In order to correct this, FSSAI has proposed the stakeholders in milk sector to follow good dairy farming practices via focused training programmes in animal husbandry, animal health and feed and nutrition areas.

The survey pointed out many issues like improper feeding, for which, FSSAI said that this can be solved by providing proper feed and fodder to cattle under the good farm practices and this will also increase proportion of fat and solid non-fat (SNF).

FSSAI also emphasises dairy plants to undertake fortification of milk with Vitamins A and D which are lost during processing. Since milk is consumed by all population groups, fortification of milk with specified micronutrients is a good strategy to address micronutrient malnutrition.

With all these, the authority also wants to address the unorganized sector which has a major share related to raw milk quality. For this, it said that very soon it will launch a 'Verified Milk Vendors Scheme' where milk vendors can voluntarily register through online registration portal and would be provided photo-identity card and properly calibrated lactometer.

Trainings would be imparted on clean milk practices with periodic sampling and testing of their milk. The hot spot areas identified would help stringent enforcement/surveillance activities. Food Safety Mitras will also be given a mandate to facilitate registration of these vendors at a very nominal cost, FSSAI statement added.

For this, the authority will launch a dedicated portal to facilitate these actions. In order to implement the action plan effectively, regional workshops would be organised jointly by FSSAI, Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (DAHD), National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) and food safety departments of the States/UTs.