Lahore: Muhammad Rafiq, 30, is a retired government servant. A couple of years ago, he drank loose milk from a local milk shop in Lahore and went to hospital directly for the treatment of severe cramps in stomach and diarrhea. A couple of weeks later, he was diagnosed with liver disease. Further medical examination suggested that adulterated milk, he used to drink led to the health hazard.
Rafiq is not the only one. There are thousands of patients suffering from various diseases caused by adulterated milk across Punjab. Punjab Food Authority (PFA), through several researches, also found that the people of Punjab are consuming milk which is worse than the contaminated water available in the province.
Captain (Retd) Muhammad Usman Director PFA, in an interview with Truth Tracker, said that sale and purchase of loose milk would be banned in 2022.
According to economic survey 2015-16 of Pakistan’s annual production of milk in the country is up to 50 billion liters and 75% do not have standard milk.
Usman said that the PFA has got passed a law in Punjab Assembly according to which sale of loose or unpasteurized milk would be banned in 2022. All the dairy farms will be legally bound to sell pasteurized milk in plastic bags and bottles.
He said that according to the international standards, before pasteurization quality of milk should be checked by a certified laboratory. The quality milk should be boiled to 63 degree Celsius for 30 minutes and immediately chilled on 4 degree Celsius. After the pasteurization, milk should be packed in boxes or bottles with labels clearly mentioning the expiry date. Then, it should be delivered to the market in a temperature-maintained vehicle for sale.
According to Usman, if milk is not boiled within few hours, the number of bacteria, already present in the milk increases that makes it undrinkable. So, it should be boiled immediately to make its life span from 4 to 6 hours which can further be increased by storing the boiled milk in a refrigerator.
Discussing the process of adulteration, he said, “The local milkmen mixe various unhealthy chemicals to extend the life of the milk or making the adulterated milk like urea, formalin, hydrogen peroxide, sodium hydroxide, melanin, aluminum sulphate, aluminum compound, and even detergents.” These chemicals cause ulcer, acidity, digestive problems, weakness of bones and cardiovascular diseases.
Similarly to fulfill the demand of the milk, water is mixed and quality is compromised. Apart from this some milkmen administer injections to their cattle to get the maximum quantity of milk. It is dangerous for both the animal and the consumer, Usman said.
He further said PFA has started the campaign to protect people of Punjab from the adulterated milk. “Now it’s the time for dairy farmers to adjust their business accordingly and install pasteurizing plants and maintain cold chains to provide milk to the consumer.” He said right now 10 to 12 pasteurization plants are working but private sector should come forward for the cause because only Lahore needs three thousand plants.
His personal point of view is only private sector or the dairy farmers should come forward and install pasteurization plants individually because if the government helps them, it will be politicized after the government changes.
In his opinion when private sector will invest, it will be more efficient and will help boost economy through creating thousands of job opportunities.
Usman also told that it takes one hour to pasteurize 1000 of liter milk. The cost of local plant is 6 million rupee and imported plant can be purchased in 12.5 million rupees. There will be cameras for surveillance and every batch of milk will be tested and reports will be recorded.
He revealed that PFA has wasted almost half a million liters of adulterated milk during the recent weeks across Punjab. “It is not possible for me and my small team to keep a permanent check on the transportation of the adulterated milk across the province,” said Usman.
Dr Javed Akram, Chairman of the University of Health and Sciences, is also in the favor of pasteurizing plants. But in his opinion, pure milk can also be delivered to the user by maintain cold chains. He told Truth Tracker that hazardous chemicals are added to milk which produce various types of life threatening diseases.
He says the worse thing Is the young buffalos are injected hormones to grow before time and to produce more milk. This milk is used by the children that leads them to reach early puberty.