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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

The dairy diary: myths about milk

Snigdhendu Bhattacharya , Hindustan Times   September 05, 2012
First Published: 15:05 IST(5/9/2012) | Last Updated: 15:10 IST(5/9/2012)

Did you know that boiling and re-boiling milk several times a day on a high frame affects the nutritional content of the milk? Did anybody tell you that boiling milk just once is enough to retain the vital nutrients?

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Across the country, people boil the same milk again and again and kill the nutrients. Experts say milk subjected to less heating retains its nutrient value. Ideally, milk should be boiled just for 2-3 minutes.

Milk continues to be perceived by most Indian families as the ultimate source of nutrition for growing children. And this is no lie.

Although it doesn’t happen anymore, there was a time when many children in north India did not make it to their fifth birthday as they fell victim to the Indian Childhood Cirrhosis — a manifestation of copper toxicity linked to boiling milk in copper cookware.

“That the apparently harmless milk, too, can cause fatal diseases such as the Indian Childhood Cirrhosis was discovered following the deaths of a number of children in the northern states prior to the 1980s,” renowned paediatrician Sanjeev Bagai said while explaining how milk, one of the most comprehensive, nutritious food, can turn useless or even fatal if not properly boiled and stored.

Not only Bagai, most paediatricians and nutritionists, who attended a seminar organised by Tetra Pak in Pune recently, said most Indian families don’t follow proper method to boil and store milk to keep its nutrition values intact.

“There is a misconception that boiling the milk repeatedly makes it better. Actually, it’s on the contrary. Milk should be boiled once and that too for a very nominal period,” Jagmeet Madan, principal of department of food and nutrition at SVT College of Home Science, Mumbai, said.

AK Singh, a senior scientist at the dairy technology division of the National Dairy Research Institute, lamented that most Indians don’t know how to preserve milk.

“Boil the milk only once, at 100°C, for two minutes. Then cool it immediately either by putting it into a refrigerator or putting the vessel in water. That is the best way to keep the nutrition values intact,” Bagai, winner of Padma Shree and BC Roy National Award, said.

While Bagai described milk as “the one stop solution to nutrition”, Madan attributed the increasing numbers of children suffering from hypertension during puberty to lack of proper milk intake. According to them, it takes a lot of other intakes to substitute milk.

According to BL Satyanarayana, vice-president of the Association of Food Scientists and Technologists, Pune chapter, sterilising milk is not enough as packing has to be aseptic, too.

“Milk is the foundation of growth, prime source of protein and calcium,” Satyanarayana, who works with Tetra Pak, said. “Pasteurised milk should be served chilled,” he said.

Since milk is contaminated very easily, it is very important to ensure that containers in which it is stored is clean.

Nutritionists give us some more insight into the goodness of milk and how to protect yourselves from impurity. “It would be surprising if milk was not part of everybody’s daily diet. Faith in the goodness of milk can be seen in every Indian family,” says Amita Grover, nutritionist.

“Milk is a natural product that contains many vitamins and minerals needed for good health. It also has good proportion of water molecules and is considered the best fluid for rehydration. Experts’ recommendation of daily consumption of half litre of milk or corresponding milk products applies to everyone: children, young people, adults and the elderly. This provides a good proportion of the daily needs of most nutrients.”


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