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92% ‘fresh milk’ supplied in Islamabad unfit for health

ISLAMABAD: Around 92% of the fresh milk being supplied to hotels and the general public from different dairy farms and milk spots is found to be unfit for health, according to the data obtained from Islamabad Capital Territory’s (ICT) Food department.

After receiving complaints from the general public about the quality of fresh milk, the food department started inspections of fresh milk in the capital and collected samples from 60 dairy farms and milk shops and forwarded the same to the National Institute of Health (NIH) for medical examination.

NIH in its report said that only eight samples of the milk are according to the standards of food laws and the remaining 52 samples are not only below the standards but unfit for human health as well.

According to the food department officials, 60 samples were collected both from rural and urban areas for inspections and the results were alarming.

The Lactometer Reading (LR) is a technique on the basis of which the ratio of water is checked in milk. According to LR results, the ratio of water in the collected milk samples are 22% to 28% but according to the relevant laws, the maximum level should be below than 14%.

According to the Punjab Pure Food (PPF), the minimum ratio of fats required in milk was at least 5%, while all samples failed to fulfill the required standards. The ratio of fats in the assessed milk of 52 samples ranged from 0.8% to 2.7% while the remaining eight samples fulfilled the laws.

The documents further added that according to PPF laws, the ratio of solids should be at least 14% per cent in milk.  However, all milk samples show only 5.2% to 9.48% of solids which are not only below the standards but toxic for human health according to experts.

The information further added that some dairy farms inside the Capital Islamabad are purchasing milk per litre on Rs40 but the market rate is Rs110 to Rs120 per litre and more than 400 restaurants and tea stalls are using the same milk which is unfit for human consumption.

According to an investigation carried out by The News Tribe, most of the low standard dairy farms are using smuggled powder from India and directly mix these powders with water without mixing other items. A few days ago, in food department raid they confiscated more than 2,000 litres of that milk made of smuggled powder from India as well sealed the illegal factory.

The New Tribe in its investigation found that around 336 restaurants and tea stalls are using this toxic milk available on low price but hazardous to human health.

Interestingly, the capital of the country still has no food regulatory authority, which can check the quality and standards of edible items.

For the whole Islamabad, there are only two food inspectors hired during the previous government.

A food department senior official, wishing not to be named, told The News Tribe that the population of the city has increased to 2 million but the department faces an acute shortage of human resource. He added that still, the government did not establish a proper food regulatory authority to check the quality of food items and ensure hygiene and quality standards at restaurants and eateries of the capital.

“Initially we inspected small restaurants but later when we started inspections of some prominent eateries including some big names, it was found that the hotels and restaurants were not properly observing quality and hygiene standards,” the official added.

Last week, the ICT administration raided a fake milk factory and confiscated thousands of kilogrammes of Indian powder from a storeroom. The powder was illegally smuggled into the capital for preparation of milk of low standards.

An official of the ICT told The News Tribe that initially the department was not aware of the situation especially on the fresh milk but now a crackdown has begun. “We have carried out a crackdown at these places and the administration will take every measure to ensure healthy food to the citizens,” he said.