Is the milk we consume stored correctly?
The consumption of milk is considered to be one of the most primary sources of food and nutrition in our country. Right from the time an infant is born, the first food that it consumes is the mother’s milk; and gradually as the little one grows up, the mother introduces cow/ buffalo milk, which eventually becomes an integral part of the child’s diet.
In a recent article ‘Mapping the Consumption of Milk and Meat in India’ that was published in March last year, “Milk is India’s leading agricultural commodity, produced on some 75 million dairy farms, most of which are quite small.”
To add to that, ‘India ranks first in milk production, accounting for 18.5 % of world production’ according to the Economic survey 2015-16. This report shows a sustained growth in the availability of milk and its consumption in a population of over 1.3 billion people. The report also states – “The success of the dairy industry has resulted from the integrated co-operative system of milk collection, transportation, processing and distribution, conversion of the same to milk powder and products, to minimize seasonal impact on suppliers and buyers, retail distribution of milk and milk products, sharing of profits with the farmer, which are ploughed back to enhance productivity and needs to be emulated by other farm produce/producers.”
The reason why we’re mentioning such facts and figures is to showcase the importance of milk in our country both as producers and consumers.
But there’s a lot that goes into sourcing milk from reliable sources. Most of us purchase milk – be it full cream or toned from supermarkets (that are available in tetra packs, plastic pouches and plastic bottles) or from milk booths. Some still prefer buying fresh cow or buffalo milk from the local goushalas/ milkmen in the neighbourhood. This is definitely a good practice that allows local economy to survive, but then it does raise an issue on the level of hygiene that is followed when it comes to milk storage and transportation from the cowshed to our homes. However, it is shocking to note that in spite of India being one of the largest producers of milk, 65% of it is still sold in loose form which does raise a concern on the standards of food safety and nutrition.
Recent studies have revealed that it is not only purity of milk that determines its quality and safety, but it is also the storage that is equally crucial. It has been observed that many milkmen delivering milk directly from their cowsheds to the homes may not be using good quality stainless steel containers. Since these containers are prone to corrosion they can harbour pathogenic bacteria like E Coli and Salmonella when milk is stored in them, which could eventually lead to food poisoning. Since these poor-quality milk cans are not safe enough to preserve the milk, by the time the consumer receives the milk, the quality of the milk has already been compromised.
What does the FSSAI have to say?
As per FSSAI “The cans and containers made up of mild steel metal and plastic material used for storage and transportation of milk and milk products shall not be allowed.” Hence the initiative started to create awareness around these lesser-known and widely ignored government norms.
Since most of the milkmen are unable to match the standards of quality and safety with respect to storage of milk as prescribed by the Government, the quality of milk gets affected if not stored properly.
“In my opinion, it is a big pat on the back of FSSAI for clearly stating the use of stainless steel for storing and supplying milk. Stainless steel is not only beneficial but also allows storage of milk in larger volumes for a long time. Poor quality cans can lead to contamination of milk as the metal used for making cans corrodes, which may lead to lethal/fatal diseases for all consuming it,” mentions Celebrity Chef Reetu Uday Kugaji – Chef, Mentor, Culinary Expert & Author, Hospitality and Food Consultant.
She further adds, “An awareness programme to educate the milk suppliers and delivery men is the need of the hour. On our part, we can visually check in what containers is the milk being supplied/delivered to us, thus refusing to purchase milk from such suppliers who do not adhere to the Food safety standards. There should be government schemes where SS cans which are well insulated to be provided at an economical rate to these milk suppliers.”
Healthy Milk Storage Alternatives
Chef Reetu strongly feels that a straightforward NO to poor quality milk cans can be a solution to the problem. Coming together as consumers in support to this decision is the need of the hour.
Educating and creating awareness regarding the proper storage of milk and its delivery is a must. These are some very important aspects, which cannot be neglected as it is directly concerning the human health – just imagine a child consuming the deteriorated quality of milk that can be both harmful and fatal!
“Well let me mention this social initiative taken by the JINDAL STAINLESS which says “I take a pledge to get good milk”. Purity is also about the right storage of milk. It is about educating your milkman and your dairies to get the milk to you with the goodness in Stainless Steel Cans. A simple refusal to accept or purchase milk that is either stored or delivered in other material cans like plastics etc.,” adds Chef Reetu.
Care for Milk initiative by Jindal Stainless
If you haven’t heard of the initiative of ‘Care for Milk’– well it is an initiative by Jindal Stainless to create awareness among the consumers over the quality of milk, and the safety standards with regard to storage.
According to the spokesperson at Jindal Stainless, “Ever since the launch of this campaign, the response has been great. Over 50,000 people have pledged to raise awareness for the cause in just 45 days”Poor quality milk cans get corroded and lead to bacteria formation, which contaminates the milk. Storing milk in such cans may also lead to various diseases. Hence, Care for Milk is an initiative of Jindal Stainless to spread awareness about the government norms and regulations regarding the storage of milk so that the people get milk with all its goodness.”
The best way to store milk
“Storing milk in stainless steel utensils is a practice that has been passed on to me by my mother. In their days, they would get the milk in glass bottles that was a far safer practice. At home, I think Stainless steel utensils or glass bottles are the best bet,” adds Sarita Pandey, Co-Founder BohoTraveller.
Chef Reetu explains that milk is perishable and therefore there is always a risk when kept at a temperature which is known as a ‘food safety danger’ zone i.e. 40◦F t0 140◦ F. It must be stored below 40◦ F. In the refrigerator do not store it in the door section. Follow FIFO First IN First OUT. Avoid exposing milk to light, as light destroys certain vitamins, such as vitamin D and riboflavin. Keep milk containers closed and stored away from strong-smelling food items, for example, Garlic, Fish etc. in the fridge, as the milk can pick up these odours.
She further adds, “Plastic is a big NO-NO as it’s very problematic and challenging to properly clean, it also tends to hold onto off-smells and tastes thus making it worthless to use/consume such kind of milk. Stainless steel keeps milk much colder and such cans are much easier to clean and maintain. Sanitising the Stainless Steel cans are more convenient and full-proof as well.”
Stainless Steel utensils and containers are widely used in the food and beverage industry due to their thermal conductivity and resistance to corrosion, which further helps to retain the quality of milk by preventing risks for consumption of milk, by us. It is more hygienic and hence can be sterilised properly.
Last but not the least, the reasons why you as a consumer and the milkmen should adopt the practice of storing milk in stainless steel containers is that they’re resistant to corrosion, have metal strength and have hygienic properties.
Have it chilled as a milkshake, hot in cuppa with cocoa – whatever way you may like to drink a glass of milk, just ensure you are storing it right.
You too can take the ‘Care for Milk’ pledge and make a difference.
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