If you suspect that the milk you buy is adulterated, you could soon lodge a complaint against your vendor with the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) on a dedicated helpline.
Satej Patil, minister of state for food and drugs administration, on Wednesday said his department will set up a dedicated helpline for milk adulteration complaints.
But the process to set up the service will begin only after the state government makes a formal decision.
“I will propose to have a dedicated number for complaints of milk, food and drugs related adulterations, but until then citizens can use the police helpline number, 100, to lodge complaints,” said Patil.
“The issue of milk adulteration is not limited only to Mumbai. It exists across the state and it takes place because demand for milk is much higher than production,” explained Dilip Rao, joint commissioner, vigilance, FDA.
The idea of setting up a dedicated helpline came up from the suggestions given by various NGOs on how to curb large-scale milk adulteration in Maharashtra.
In addition to the dedicated helpline, which is a part of the FDA’s awareness programme against milk adulteration, the agency will also request companies to use tamper-proof bags for packaging and appoint vigilance teams.
But some feel that using tamper-proof bags would be costly and consumers would have to bear the price.
Activist Harish Pandey, who had exposed milk adulteration rackets at five places in Dahisar and Borivli last year, said: “The issue is with the distribution system. Milk supply starts at night but reaches people in the morning, which gives enough time to the supplier to adulterate. The timings of the milk supply process should be regularised.”
The government will also issue identity cards to milk vendors.
Patil said he would also try to enforce the law strictly against those caught contaminating milk. "Until a culprit is punished, he will… repeat the crime," he said.
Activist Arun Kambli, who believes that milk suppliers are not always the culprits, agrees. “Vendors at dairies have a bigger role to play. Strict action should be taken against those found adulterating milk.”
In a related development, the FDA has not found the drugs that were purchased by Lilavati Hospital at Bandra in February to be of sub-standard quality.
When asked about the result of the investigation, Patil said: “There was an internal dispute among the board members of the hospital, but our officers have not found anything of that sort [purchase of sub-standard drugs].”