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Mumbaiites, two minutes and ₹60 is all it takes to find out if the milk you bought is safe to drink

A milk adulteration test, set to enter the Mumbai market soon, will change colours depending on what adulterants it detects

mumbai Updated: May 12, 2017 18:47 IST
Sadaguru Pandit
Sadaguru Pandit
Hindustan Times
adulterated milk,urea,glucose
FDA officials and scientists will demonstrate how the strip works to Girish Bapat, minister for food and civil supplies, next week.(HT Photo)

How can you be sure that the milk you have bought from a neighbourhood store is safe to drink? A small strip of paper, coated with chemicals, is all it takes.

The milk adulteration strip, developed by the state unit of Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), changes colour to indicate if the milk has been adulterated. It will be available in the market in the next three months. Each strip will cost anywhere between Rs50 to Rs60.

How will this help?
  • “We don’t have enough food inspectors to check what millions of milk vendors are selling, so this milk tester will help empower residents and urge them to examine what they are drinking,” said FDA commissioner Dr Harshdeep Kamble.
  • He added that it will act as a huge deterrent to miscreants who sell adulterated or synthetic milk. “Once residents are alert, such businesses won’t be able to survive,” he said.
  • The product will also help milk collection centres that provide milk to chilling plants, where it is packed. “Milk collection centres will be able to check the quality of the milk easily before sending to be supplied. This will reduce the chances of adulterated milk being mixed with fresh and natural milk,” he added.

To test milk, just add two drops of it to the centre of the strip. It will change colour at both ends depending on the adulterant. The white strip, which resembles a litmus paper, will turn from yellow to red to indicate the presence of urea, while it will change from white to brown to show glucose. A change from yellow to brown indicates salt.

“This is a revolutionary answer to the problem of milk adulteration in our country. All those who want to ensure that the milk their family is consuming doesn’t have synthetic or hazardous elements, will be able to check the quality of milk in two minutes,” said FDA commissioner Dr Harshdeep Kamble, who worked with scientists to develop the tester.

Dr Kamble said the research process for research started six to seven months ago when the group of scientists working on cancer research came to meet him. “I asked them to come up with a scientific and affordable solution to the problem of milk adulteration,” he said.

FDA officials and scientists will demonstrate how the strip works to Girish Bapat, minister for food and civil supplies, next week. “When we informed the minister about the product, he was keen on it being introduced to the market,” said Dr Kamble.

Dr Jayant Khandare, director and scientist, Right To Research, Pune, which developed the tester, told HT it was a challenge “to make something innovative at an affordable cost”.

“We found that major milk adulterants were urea, salt, glucose, H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide) and starch. The group developed strips that could be used to detect adulterants in milk in multiple channels simultaneously,” he said.

“The colour changes at both ends. We call this ‘simultaneous detection’. This will give us a double confirmation that the test isn’t false or negative,” said Khandare.

First Published: May 12, 2017 18:30 IST