Tamil Nadu Milk and Dairy Development minister KT Rajenthra Bhalaji’s remark that private milk suppliers added chemicals to extend longevity of their product has kicked up a row, with the milk agents’ association hitting out at him for his generalised statement. Bhalaji alleged “majority” of private milk companies in the state added “chemicals” to keep it from expiring for a longer time. A milk agents’ association hit out at Bhalaji for his “generalised” statement and asked why the government had not acted on a long-pending demand for stricter laws to deal with adulteration of milk.
While the Minister had first made the remarks recently at a function in neighbouring Tiruvallore district, he today stood by them, and even challenged the private players to prove the standard of the milk supplied by them. “Can the private milk suppliers take social activists or an all-party delegation to their plants and prove their milk is pure,” Balaji asked. “Aavin milk is genuine…not all but a majority of private players are indulging in such wrongdoings,” he told reporters here
He said a number of complaints had been received of late and that government agencies concerned had already undertaken “discreet investigation” into the matter. He said the government will also “create public awareness through media” against milk brands that were found to be containing added chemicals.
He asked “can we drink poison if there is no milk,” responding to a question on possible shortage of Aavin milk in some parts prompting consumers to opt for milk marketed by private companies. Bhalaji’s remarks drew criticism from a milk agents’ body. Tamil Nadu Milk Agents Labour Welfare Association said the Minister was making “generalised statements.”
Association founder S A Ponnusamy said the government had so far not acted on the Supreme Court’s directive on enacting stricter laws to deal with the issue of adulteration of milk. “While the government has not acted on this matter despite our repeated pleas, the Minister now seems to be speaking with a newfound realisation,” he said in a statement. He said Bhalaji’s statements were “strongly condemnable.”Ponnusamy demanded that the government immediately constitute an expert panel to address the issue of adulteration of milk and enact stringent laws to deal with offenders.
Hatsun Agro Ltd, which retails milk under the Arokya brand, said the milk sold by it was free of preservatives or chemicals.”Hatsun Agro Product Ltd procures 100 per cent of milk directly from farmers in Tamil Nadu and the milk undergoes 42 tests from procurement to delivery stage to ensure “highest standards are met for our customers”, Hatsun Agro Product Chairman, R G Chandramogan said in a statement. He said the company has heavily invested in infrastructure over the years to effectively handle significant volume of milk.”Our infrastructure and inputs ensure better quality milk…,” he said.
The milk produced was regularly tested by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) authorities in Tamil Nadu and also in other states, he said. The company ensures complete cold chain facility from procurement, processing and supply chain logistics until it reaches the retail outlet. “This ensures fresh and good quality milk reaches the end consumer”, the statement.