Nandini Full Cream Milk, a product of Karnataka Milk Federation, had‘Cypermethrin’ pesticide 40% more than the permissible limit, found tests of five different milk brands in Bangalore and Chennai done by a Bangalore-based food-analysing startup WiseTummy.com.
The tests were done at a government-accredited lab in Chennai in June this year.
Cypermethrin is classified as 'moderately hazardous' by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Cypermethrin content in milk should not exceed 0.010 mg per litre, says the FSSAI Regulation 2011. Nandini Full Cream Milk sample had Cypermethrin content at 0.014 mg per litre, which was 40% higher than the permissible limit.
The pesticide cypermethrin accumulates in body fat of cows fed on byproducts of crops heavily prayed with pesticides, such as husk from cotton, sugarcane or wheat.
"Initially, we randomly picked up one packaged milk sample of each brand. Only when the Nandini Full Cream Milk sample was detected with pesticide, we picked up two more samples of the same brand. However, those were not detected with pesticides," said Gaurav Maheshwari, founder of WiseTummy.com.
“If consumed daily, a small amount of cypermethrin is enough to cause cancer. Apart from children drinking the milk, even breast milk of women having contaminated milk can harm infants,” says Anuradha Shekhar, head of department for food science & nutrition, Dr BMN College of Home Science, Mumbai.
“When we found out about the pesticide content, we re-confirmed the tests to make sure we had the right data. It was shocking to know that a big and reliable brand like Nandini could have something like this,” says Ashok Kumar, founder of Chennai Testing Laboratory Pvt Ltd, which is a National Accreditation Board of Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) certified lab. NABL is an autonomous body under the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.
"I have been using Nandini milk products ever since I have been in Bangalore. I'm so shocked to see this report. Worried," said Sakina A Burhani, a resident.
“We have posted the results on our Facebook page,” said Maheshwari. “We are open to sharing the results with Nandini.”
The concern over lead in Maggi noodles triggered the whole testing idea. “We started getting queries with regards to lead content of Maggi vis-a-vis others in the noodles category,” said Maheshwari.
“That is when we decided to join hands with the Chennai lab and test products to get a clearer picture,” he added.
The two-and-a-half-year-old WiseTummy and three-year-old Chennai Testing Laboratory Pvt Ltd are looking for funding for more such tests. “We now plan to test the preservative content in packaged wheat flour,” quipped Maheshwari.