Elixir or poison?

Published: Tuesday 30 April 1996

NEXT time when you are going to drink a glass of milk, think twice. It might be a concoction of refined oil, caustic soda, urea and detergent. Scientists of the *National Dairy Research Institute at Karnal, Haryana, have brought to light that unscrupulous traders are pumping synthetic milk into the market. The so-called synthetic milk poses serious health risks for infants, pregnant women, old people, as well as heart and kidney patients.

The 'synthetic', technology supposedly perfected by milk vendors at Kurukshetra, has now spread to the adjacent states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh. Synthetic milk is similar to real milk in all aspects except taste and nutritional qualities. It consists largely of cheap cooking oil. A detergent is added to 'emulsify' and dissolve the oil in water, which adds the characteristic white colour of milk to the frothy solution. Urea is used as a substitute for solid-not-fat. A litre of this mixture costs Rs two or less and blended with natural milk, it could be sold for Rs 11.

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