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Milk quality - Challenges in handling, storage & more
Friday, 18 January, 2019, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Amit Kumar Singh and Tripti Kumari
Introduction
Milk is considered to be a near complete food due to its nutritional properties. But, it’s very sad to know that most of the milk and milk products in the market do not meet quality standards.

Moreover, recently World Health Organization (WHO) prophesied for India that if such adulteration in milk and milk products is prolonged and not promptly corrected, 87% citizens are likely to suffer from serious diseases by 2025 even as severe as cancer.

Generally adulterants in the form of thickening materials like detergents, urea, starch, formalin and glucose are added to make more money. Not only adulteration is responsible for poor quality milk but also sub-standard high somatic celled milk is one of the important causes. Poor handling and inefficient milk storage also adds to this. There are easy and economic ways to maintain and predict the quality of milk under home and farm conditions. This article aims to enlighten efficient ways to meet milk and milk products quality.

Ensuring quality of milk
Milk is produced, handled, stored and then finally it reaches to the consumers through various marketing channels. For ensuring good quality milk, concept of clean milk production must be understood.

Clean milk production
Clean milk starts right from the healthy condition of animal as well as milker. Both, hands of milker and teats of cows should be sanitised before and after milking process. Udder and teats of dairy animals could be washed using 1% KMnO4. If machine milking is followed then it should be cleaned regularly. Milking area, also, should be kept clean and dry. It is advised to milker to have turban. Clean and less edged milk containers are equally important.

Proper handling of milk
Small amount of market milk only reaches to the consumers directly and rest of the milk has to undergo processing. Most of the milk quantity is taken for storage followed by processing. Milk is transported, generally, in small containers by Dudhwala (milkman) usually under non-insulated conditions. While transportation, time taken and surrounding temperature directly affects the quality and shelf life of milk. Use of insulated and temperature-controlled containers should be encouraged and followed.

Proper storage of milk
Market milk is stored in refrigerated condition and it is advised to maintain refrigerated condition of milk till it reaches safely to the consumer to maintain its quality. Shelf life of such milk is generally acceptable for six days. Pouched milk is good than one kept in open container. Tetra packaging has taken milk shelf life and quality to next level. It is a better method. Consumers are advised to take a note, very carefully, of expiry dates issued by selling companies before they consume milk as “it is better to throw it outside than throwing it inside” if the milk is of bad quality.

Efficient and economic methods
There are several methods, both lab and farm methods, to predict the quality of milk. Laboratory methods are costly and cannot be practiced in every condition but, there are some easy, quick, efficient and economical methods which can be adopted under home conditions. These methods include:
Modified California Mastitis Test (MCMT): In this milk is taken in four cups of milk paddle and then freshly prepared few drops of Sodium laurel sulfate is added to each quarter and quality of milk is estimated in form of good milk having free flow and poor milk having variable viscosity.

Surf Filled Mastitis Test (SFMT): In this 3% detergent is added in milk in 1:1. Poor quality milk is judged by gel like formation.

Lactometer: It can be well used for this purpose.

Government’s role
Various Central and state government labs should be extended to be more in number to check the quality of milk at regular periods of time. Governments should formulate such policies that give a great priority to milk in food security.

Conclusion
To maintain milk quality that meets quality standards is indeed a great challenge for India.  Concept of clean milk production must be considered inevitable in this regard. Clean milk production provides a great scope to obtain sound milk quality. Adulterated milk is a great threat to the well being of human society. Consumers should be careful while accepting milk for its quality and source. Above mentioned steps could be beneficial to them in this regard. Prompt actions are required through government bodies and the role of producers is also equally important.

(The authors are M.Sc. LPM scholar and Ph. D. LPM scholar at ICAR-National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal. They can be reached at amitkumarsingh5496@gmail.com)
 
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