And if he is so sure that milk produced by private players is adulterated, why hasn’t he banned them yet?

Chief Scaremonger Does TN Dairy Minister have proof for milk causes cancer claimCourtesy: Vikatan, Wikimedia Commons
news Food Safety Friday, May 26, 2017 - 17:17

The last few days have been very busy for Rajenthra Bhalaji. Tamil Nadu’s Dairy Development Minister has suo-moto taken on an additional charge: He’s now the self-appointed Chief Scaremonger of the state as well.

On Thursday, the Minister made an astounding declaration about private milk companies in Tamil Nadu: “They’re turning curd back into milk using chemicals.”

via GIPHY

‘Turning curd into milk’ is an unbelievable claim to make for any person, let alone a Minister. But this is hardly the most alarming thing the Minister has said this week.

On Wednesday, Rajenthra Bhalaji said to a Tamil TV channel that private milk companies are selling adulterated milk, which was causing cancer in children.

If this claim is true, the Minister should be taking the most severe action against milk producers, and also informing people about his evidence for the claim. But so far, he has only said that he was ‘collecting more information’.

Among other things, Rajenthra Bhalaji pointed to the shelf life of milk. In his interaction with the media on Thursday, the Dairy Development Minister expanded on his allegations. He claimed that it’s milk “only if it gets spoilt within 5 hours.”

“Everything else is chemicals,” he claimed. “Aavin (the brand of milk produced by the state) is safe for consumption, and so are some of the private brands of milk. But many of the private milk producers are adding chemicals,” he declared.

The Minister claimed that his words are based on a study, and that samples of milk have been sent to ‘labs in Pune’ for testing. He hasn’t shared this study with either media persons or with the people of the state. A person in the Minister’s office tells TNM that while the samples have been sent for testing, the results ‘will come in June.’

So why is the Minister jumping the gun in making such alarming, and unscientific, announcements?

While it is the job of the Minister to crackdown on any adulteration of milk and dairy products, the fact that he’s making allegations on private players without any evidence has angered many.

Private milk producers have criticised the Minister for making such announcements, and have even questioned his claims about Aavin being safe while the other brands have been deemed unsafe.

“From procurement to sale, Aavin milk also takes 20 hours. How is their process different?” asked Ponnusamy SA, the founder and president Tamil Nadu Milk Dealers Employee Welfare Association.

The Tamil Nadu Traders’ Association meanwhile has questioned the government as to why they haven’t banned the private companies if they’re so sure that they’re selling adulterated milk.

"A Minister is saying that milk that the Government allows to be sold is adulterated. In a day, 3 crore litres of milk is required. Who should change this? The Minister should. Not just this. Look at drinking water. The Government gives drinking water. If this water is not good, the vendor who uses it is punished. But who should go to jail? Govt is saying adults and children should not drink milk. Then who should ban it?" asks Vikram Raja, president of the Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangam.

Read: TN Minister alleges private milk companies sell adulterated milk that causes cancer

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