In a first for India, the unorganised milk suppliers or vendors will now be brought under the monitoring through a verification programme.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has launched 'Verified Milk Vendors Scheme' in Gujarat with an aim to cover milk producers and milk vendors under the regulation net.

Under the new scheme, all the unorganised milk producers and vendors in Gujarat will be issued identity cards by taking their registration. "For the first time, we will be monitoring the raw and loose milk suppliers. Till now the focus has remained on the dairy products and the dairies. But the unorganised suppliers to these private dairies and the end-consumers were somehow missed from the regulatory monitoring. So, we are going a step ahead to keep a check on the raw milk suppliers and producers, who independently supply loose milk to small/big dairies and the end consumers," Hemant G Koshia, Commissioner, Food and Drug Control Administration (FDCA) - Gujarat, told Businessline .

The cooperative dairies and registered private dairies are already covered under the Food Safety and Standards Act, whereas the small vendors and producers often go unchecked.

Gujarat is estimated to have about 40 lakh milk producers and vendors who will be given these identity cards.

FSSAI Chief Executive Officer, Pawan Kumar Agarwal was also present during the launch of the scheme in Ahmedabad last week.

"Currently, we are finalising the rollout plan and coverage strategy. Within next six months to one year's time we will cover all the vendors with identity cards," Koshia stated.

Based on the Gujarat experience, the FSSAI will plan to roll-out the similar scheme nationwide.

On the retail consumption of loose milk, Koshia stated that about 85 per cent of the overall milk consumption in Gujarat is pouched milk, so only a small portion of retail consumers actually go for loose milk purchases. However, Koshia also flagged the risk at the private dairies, where a bulk of loose milk gets processed to make different milk products.

The food regulators in Gujarat have observed instances of milk adulteration in the State to be around 6-7 per cent of the samples collected. "This is in line with the national average of milk adulteration cases. In past 8-10 years, we have seen adulteration cases where water or sucrose were mixed with milk. But there has been no case of urea-mixed adulteration at least in Gujarat so far," stated Koshia.