Packaged milk was launched in Pakistan in the 1980s. The public was slow to accept such long lasting milk and documentaries were aired on PTV to show people how Tetra Pak milk was safe from germs and bacteria.
Slowly people moved to packaged milk after concerns over the purity of fresh milk. Little did the public know that these brands were selling them the same, or even worse, quality of milk.
Supreme Court’s Order
Back in September, Supreme Court suddenly woke up and realized the gravity of the problem as if the issue had arisen out of the blue. It ordered a chemical examination of all domestic and international brands selling packed milk in Pakistan. The order was issued by a two judge bench after a petition from Barrister Zafarullah Khan against the government of Punjab for not banning these products.
University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF), the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences Lahore (UVAS) and the Pakistan Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR) were to conduct the analysis without any leniency or fear.
Advocate Haider Rasul Mirza submitted reports against thee companies to the Supreme Court due to their unhygienic practices regarding milk products after the court’s request. These companies were Al-Fazal Foods, Doce Foods and Gourmet Foods.
All companies were asked to explain their positions. Director Punjab Food Authority was also asked to explain regarding this matter.
Milk Brand Reports from PCSIR
PCSIR submitted sealed milk analysis reports along with guidelines to the court. One report was for pasteurized milk while the other one was for UHT packed milk.
Pasteurized milk goes through a mild process which removes bacteria and germs and very few preservatives are added.
UHT (Ultra Heat Treatment) involves heating milk at a temperature of 135 degrees Celsius for a few seconds before cooling it down again. This results in killing all healthy bacteria as well as nullifying most nutrients.
Ten pasteurized milk samples were tested by the PCSIR. Out of all of these, Prema milk was the only one found fit for human consumption.
Other tested milk samples that were found unfit for health were taken from:
Only Prema Milk was found edible amongst all pasteurized milk brands
Six UHT standardised milk samples were also tested and all but Haleeb Milk, were found to be drinkable for humans (names not mentioned in court order). UHT (Ultra Heat Treatment) involves heating milk at a temperature of 135 degrees Celsius for a few seconds before cooling it down again.
Report from UVAS
The university submitted a detailed report on the contents of these milk products. The report said that sugarcane quantity is present in UHT Haleeb Milk and pasteurised Achaa Milk, Adams Milk and Anhaar Milk.
The report states that heavy metals, hazardous for health, were found in UHT Good Milk, Haleeb Milk, Nurpur, Nestle Milk Pak and Day Fresh.
Amongst pasteurized milk samples, heavy metals were found in Nurpur, Doce, Gourmet and Daily Dairy.
Report from UAF
UAF found all UHT samples to be consumable while Adams and Achaa milk were found to contain sugar and formalin.
Supreme Court has ordered all of the named companies to respond to each of the reports where the brand name was mentioned. Once the legal proceedings finish, these products will be banned until they rectify the problems and only market products which are fit for health.
Ironically, this is something which has to be regulated by the food authorities and health ministry.
The public and their children have been drinking hazardous milk for the past three decades and who knows how long this has been going on for.
The government needs to implement a stricter control since all brands (except Prema milk) were named in at least one of the reports for being unhealthy or even dangerous to consume.