Don’t we deserve better reporting?
If you read ‘The Hindu’ this morning, it is very likely that this article, ‘ Adulterated milk may contain washing powder and chemicals‘ completely missed your attention. Isn’t this something of paramount importance to us, the regular citizens of the city? Don’t we deserve good milk, and if not, at least a good news report on this issue? I am quite surprised at such a half-baked news report from ‘The Hindu’.
This is a tiny little article placed right at the top of page 2, attracting very little attention, since the colorful ad just below it is given the most importance on this page. The article gives us no more information than what the title itself says.
Imagine having soap in your morning cup of tea. It may be shocking, but a recent story by a television channel showed how adulterated milk is being sold in our cities and towns and Bangalore may not be an exception.
Now, obviously, this is just a commentary after seeing a programme on TV. Neither is the channel nor the show mentioned! ‘may be shocking‘???!!
Experts say adulterated milk may contain urea, hydrogen peroxide, washing powder, shampoo and other chemicals. Detergents and washing powders are added to create foam while other chemicals are added for taste. “All kinds of materials are going into milk, including starch and paper pulp. Washing powders and chemicals used to make it more thick or foamy can definitely cause stomach upset. Consuming adulterated milk could be harmful for health in the long run,” says P.S.V. Rao, endocrinologist.
Now, what kind of experts are saying that the milk we are consuming can contain all these unimaginable substances? Why is P.S.V. Rao, an endocrinologist telling that we are having starch, paper pulp etc in our milk? Ideally, shouldn’t it be some kind of food related government department that we should be quoting and hearing this info from?
So, what can you do to check whether the milk you are drinking is adulterated or not? Try this: it is called the soda test. Take 5 ml of milk in a test tube and add 5 ml alcohol, followed by 4 to 5 drops of caustic soda. If the colour of the milk changes to pinkish red, then it is likely that the milk is adulterated.
To detect the presence of starch, take 3 ml milk in a test tube and boil it thoroughly. Cool it to room temperature and add 2 to 3 drops of iodine solution. If the milk changes its colour to blue, it indicates that it is adulterated with starch.
What am I getting from this “news report”? If I need to know whether the milk I am drinking and feeding my family is adulterated or not, I better go and find a test tube, alcohol, caustic soda, iodine and become a student of chemistry? I don’t know about you, but I for one, do not have any of these at home. Isn’t it somebody else’s onus to do that for us? Also, we don’t even know if this applies to the Nandini milk that the government supplies to most of us Bangaloreans for our everyday consumption. What did the staff reporter hope to achieve by publishing this news report? Just drive moms like me to worry over one of the most basic ingredients in the family’s diet?
I don’t know if I am upset over the state of affairs of our milk supply or over the utter lack of responsibility on the part of the staff reporter from a newspaper of such repute as ‘The Hindu’! It seems like after all the ad placements on this page, there was just this little space left to be filled up. They probably didn’t even expect anybody to be reading it. So then, it probably didn’t matter that it was such casual reporting of something of such importance! They could have done without these 3 paragraphs.
UPDATE: May 28, 1:00 PM
I read this piece last evening. Since this morning, I have been trying to lay my hands on some caustic soda and iodine solution. I have been to some chemist stores, but nobody seems to be carrying either of these items. I am keen to see how Nandini will test. I am rooting for Nandini to win! :) Lets see. I am not sure where else to look for these items, if you have a clue, please let me know. I asked the chemists if they know where I would get these, and they are not too sure; they think these are probably available in stores on Avenue Road.
On coming home, I searched for info about caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) and this is what I learnt with regards to its safety factor:
Solid sodium hydroxide or solutions containing high concentrations of sodium hydroxide may cause chemical burns, permanent injury or scarring, and blindness.
Solvation of sodium hydroxide is highly exothermic, and the resulting heat may cause heat burns or ignite flammables.
Is this what they want the readers to be handling at home without any precautions?