‘Legislation, proper implementation a must’


Milk adulteration prevention policies and a legislation framework is a must to ensure supply of pure milk for consumption. The demand was by the participants in a consultation workshop on ‘Milk Anti-adulteration Policy’, organised by Plan international at a local hotel on Thursday.
According to speakers, Pakistan is the third largest milk producing country in the world but the sector did not develop to use the maximum potential. Only 3 to 4 percent pf the total milk produced is processed through formal dairy industry and marketed by formal channels whereas the remaining 96 to 97 percent of the milk reaches the end users for immediate consumption through traditional distribution system of middlemen). The middleman is the key player in traditional milk supply chain. The demand for processed milk is increasing and gaining the share in quality conscious consumers, who also find the increased shelf life of processed milk appealing.
Dr Naseem Akhtar from the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) said the contractors had been the major source of milk collection and supply and, at the same time, were very sophisticated to use adulterants to satisfy the tests conducted by processors.
“This widespread adulteration has its own social, economical and health implications, and all of which need to be identified and addressed.”
Plan Pakistan Country Director Haider W Yaqub said presently, the Pure Food Rules of 1965, Cantonment Pure Food Rules of 1967 (for military areas) and parts of the Pakistan Penal Code of 1860 were applicable to the dairy industry along with the other food items.
“The Punjab government has taken the lead and introduced the Pure Food Laws 2007 and Food Safety Standards Act 2011. These legislative and regulatory measures affect dairy industry, milk marketing and adulteration.” Raja Rafaqat Hussain from the National Rural Support Programme (NRSP) pointed to the barriers in implementation process for curbing adulteration in fresh milk. The current process of collecting milk from a large number of subsistence farmers was time-consuming and costly and created many opportunities for adulteration, he added. Dr Aman Ullah Cheema, a representative of the National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC) said the government was obliged to implement the existing food safety standards effectively. Practical training to farmers on modern farming and animal husbandry practices was necessary while the capacity of training institutions should be improved and serious efforts were needed to develop the dairy sector and provision of the best quality milk to the consumers.
Moiz Ali from Plan Pakistan said the dairy industry in general was constrained by a number of major issues including low productivity, seasonality in milk supply, a patchy distribution system, absence of cold chains and unhygienic handling, leading to poor milk quality and the inability to meet international standards. The issues needed to be addressed on an urgent basis as corruption, inefficiency and lack of political will to implement the legislation were complicating the situation, he added.
Participants recommended to improve and enforce existing food safety standards in line with international standards and increase the penalties for infractions of the law, provide practical training to farmers on modern farming and animal-keeping practices, enhance the capacities of training institutions to provide required training, create code of ethics for milk processors, create the political will to implement the policies effectively, establish labs and provision of trainings to relevant staff, frequent collection of milk samples and reports to be made public.