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Adulteration in milk, food items plagues Punjab

Chandigarh: Once known as the land of milk, lassi, butter, ghee and robust people, Punjab is in the grip of a serious problem of adulteration in food items. After a dip in water and air quality in the state, a survey has indicated that the state is beset with an adulteration issue.
The state government has started a “Tandarust Punjab” programme to make people aware of a healthy lifestyle. However, it found almost 50 per cent food products adulterated after compiling the data across the state.
As per the data compiled by the state’s Food and Drug Administration, 48.6 per cent of the samples collected in August failed the quality test. The percentage was the same for September. Prior to the campaign under Tandarust Punjab, the adulteration percentage had hovered at 25 per cent for four years.
Health minister Brahm Mohindra said surprise checks would be conducted “to ensure quality products during the festive season”.
Milk and milk products topped the list of adulterated items.
In August, of the total 494 milk samples collected, 252 were found adulterated. Similarly, 575 samples of milk products, including butter, ghee and ice cream, were collected of which 307 were adulterated.
The results for edible oil were alarming too. Of the 48 samples, 21 were adulterated. In case of namkeen (snacks), the adulteration rate was 100 per cent. In sweets and confectionary items, the adulteration was 25 per cent and in processed fruit products such as jams, 40 per cent.
According to K.S. Pannu, commissioner, food and drug administration, and director of Tandurust Punjab Mission, who is leading the campaign against adulteration, says about 10 per cent of the milk and 20 per cent of the milk products in the state were suspected to be adulterated.
A large number of units in Punjab are engaged in manufacturing low-quality and adulterated milk and milk products, he said.
These units sell paneer at `170 a kilo whereas the manufacturing cost of paneer is `270 a kilo. Similarly, some units sell ghee at `200 a kilo, which is 50 per cent of the cost of production, he said
When the label on the pack is scrutinised, one finds the term “cooking medium” used instead of ghee, which prevents us from seizing it as inferior quality ghee, he said.
Similarly, low-quality khoya is being made and is also coming through railways and vehicles from outside the state. Special inspection drives are on at railway stations and there are special nakas on interstate highways.
“Till now, 1,424 samples have been collected and approximately 60 per cent have failed quality tests,” he said.
As per the Tandrust Punjab Mission, the Punjab government will have a focused and integrated approach by involving all the stakeholders to work towards creating a “Tandrust Punjab”. Under the mission, any attempt to pollute the air, contaminate water and adulterate food will be seen as a crime against humanity and the state.