Life Imprisonment for Milk Adulteration finds backing by SC

06 Aug 2016 | By Mansi Motwani

On 5th August, 2016, the Supreme Court heard a PIL stressing on the sale of adulterated and synthetic milk found across the country.

The apex court favoured life imprisonment for the offence of milk adulteration, urging the Government of India to amend the Indian Penal Code.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) report of 2011 was quoted in the petition.

In context: Adulteration of Milk in India

PFAThe Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954

For protecting the health of consumers, the Indian Government issued the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act in the year 1954.

The Act came into force on 1st June, 1955.

Under this Act, "adulterant" means any material which is or could be employed for the purpose of adulteration.

The PFA restricts manufacture, sale and distribution of not only adulterated food but also contaminated food.

InformationAdulteration of Milk

Milk gets most of its physical characteristics from casein micelles and fat globules.

Albeit the composition of milk depends on a number of things such as the breed of the cow, stage of lactation, season of the year, the relationship between these constituents is quite stable.

It is this relationship that helps to determine whether the milk composition has been tampered with.

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Examples of Milk Adulterants

AdulterantsExamples of Milk Adulterants

Water is added to milk in order to increase its volume, decreasing its nutritive value.

Detergents emulsify and dissolve the oil in water, making it frothy and white. They cause gastro-intestinal complications.

To provide whiteness, increase consistency and level the contents of solid-not-fat (SNF) milk, urea is used as an adulterant.

Starch too is used as a milk adulterant and is fatal for diabetics.

Largest Producer of Milk

Due to the White Revolution, India is one of the largest producers of milk. In the year 2010-2011, India was placed among the top 5 countries of the world producing 121.8 million tonnes of milk.

2011The National Survey on Milk Adulteration

The National Survey on Milk Adulteration was carried out to check how contaminated liquid milk is across India.

The study found contaminants like urea, starch, glucose and detergents being used as adulterants.

Milk was adulterated in order to increase its viscosity and also for preservation purposes.

Of the milk samples collected by food safety authority, 70% did not conform to standards.

Highest Adulteration Rate

100% adulteration levels were found in Bihar, Chattisgarh, Odisha, West Bengal, Mizoram, Jharkhand, Daman and Diu.
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06 Aug 2016Life Imprisonment for Milk Adulteration finds backing by SC

RecommendationsMeasures put forth by the Supreme Court to curb adulteration

The Centre was asked to make the adulteration of milk a criminal offence punishable with life imprisonment.

The two-member bench said that Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha have amended laws, making life imprisonment the punishment for adulteration and that other states should follow their footsteps.

Milk being the staple diet of children and infants, tackling its adulteration was regarded as an "urgent need".