The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has started a nationwide surveillance study on milk and milk products this month, in a bid to curb adulteration of such items, an official of the country's apex food regulator said on Monday.
The exercise will continue till October, and the regulator is expected to submit its report to the Health Ministry by December, FSSAI Advisor (Quality Assurance) Satyen K Panda said.
"The surveillance survey will cover 766 districts across the country and over 10,000 samples will be collected during the exercise. Two agencies have been engaged for the purpose," he told PTI.
“Quality Council of India, an autonomous body under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and the National Dairy Development Board will conduct the survey for FSSAI,” Panda said.
"The scope for the survey includes milk, khoa, chenna, paneer, ghee, butter, curd, and ice cream. The test parameters are adulterants, normal quality and compositional parameters, contaminants, antibiotic residues and microbiological indicators," he said.
The study was initiated to assess milk and milk products sold in the country for compliance with Food Safety and Standards Regulations, and also to identify hotspots for adulteration. “One of the objectives of the survey is to devise corrective action strategies,” Panda said.
The rationale behind choosing milk is its indispensable role in food culture either as a fresh fluid or as a processed dairy product, he said.
"We are hopeful of submitting a report on the findings of the survey to the health ministry by December," Panda said.
The regulator has conducted five surveys on milk and milk items since 2011. FSSAI had, in 2022, conducted a milk survey in 12 states, including 10 where the Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) was prevalent. It also undertook the PAN India Milk Products Survey, 2020 to understand the true picture of the safety and quality of milk products being sold in the market during festivals.
In all, 2,801 milk product samples from organised and unorganised sectors were collected from 542 districts across the country for the 2020 study.
These products were tested for all the quality and safety parameters, including pesticide residues, heavy metals, crop contaminants and melamine.