Packaged milk has become a necessity in Pakistan in recent years due to its accessibility. Moreover, the awareness created through different campaigns, including an animated series titled Milkateer, has promoted the use of packaged milk amongst households.
People drinking packaged milk, better known as Tetra Pak milk, think they are getting the real deal i.e. real milk.
People think that packaged milk is more hygienic and healthier as compared to loose milk. This has directly increased its demand. A series of events, however, challenged the authenticity and the purity of Tetra Pak milk. A few months back, Barrister Zafarullah Khan headed a petition; it stated that not only loose but packaged milk available, is also unfit for human consumption. The packaged milk is adulterated with detergent and chemicals, which could lead to cancer and other fatal diseases. In response to this, a Supreme Court jury led by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar set up a committee to test all the available milk brands to check for contamination and provide a report within a month.
Punjab Food Authority (PFA) was able to produce a report and make it public, stating that majority of these brands are safe for consumption. Some, however, were processed in unhygienic conditions. But keep in mind that it was stated in the petition that Pakistan has no laboratory which can evaluate the exact level of contamination.
The petition had stirred up tension amongst the public, which settled partially due to the report. Companies also tried to tone down the tension by launching advertisements and campaigns, which highlighted their hygienic methods and company policies. Some companies went to the extent of inviting the public to their farms. Everyone thought it was over for good. But a few weeks ago, while hearing a case at the Karachi registry regarding the sale of substandard packaged milk, Mian Saqib Nisar ordered that all available packaged milk undergo laboratory testing with results reported.
He also prohibited the sale of tea whiteners as “milk”.
Moreover, he spoke against the use of hormonal injections for milk production and asked for immediate action to be taken against people who use them. He made remarks during the session, stating the public is being forced to consume carcinogens in form of Tetra Pak milk, which is also one reason behind the increase in hormonal disorders.
Why are hormonal injections being used and how do companies benefit from its use?
Hormonal injections increase milk production, raising profits at minimal costs. But companies racing for profit has put our lives at stake. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome(PCOs), Cancer. and other disorders are rising due to it.
These events have put the public in a dilemma. The (PFA) report had claimed packaged milk was safe for consumption and also promoted its use. But the recent event has put people in doubt regarding which milk to consume. Loose milk does not have a good reputation, and now people are even hesitant to use packaged milk. It is a very good initiative by the government, as our health is at risk. Authorities must remove harmful products from shelves because our health is indispensable.
We should not be facing this problem as our country is an agricultural one with one of the world’s best buffalo breeds. We face this problem because dairy owners want to make a profit; if they don’t adulterate the milk they end up making low profits because of the government’s policies and rates. The dairy farmers have almost no benefits or concessions from the government. We also face this situation because we have no functioning authorities that can keep control of the dairy farms. However, a little awareness runs a long way. So, let’s continue disseminating public knowledge about packaged milk and how it may not be the most optimum for our health.