'Milk consumption down by 30 percent due to coliform rumors'

Published On: July 9, 2018 06:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, July 9: Milk consumption has come down by around 30 percent after the government's inspection found presence of coliform bacteria and soda in milk processed by dairy plants, according to food technicians.

Speaking at a press meet in Kathmandu on Sunday, Jeevan Praba Lama, president of Nepal Food Scientists and Technologists Association (Nefosta), argued that it is safe to consume milk even if it has coliform. “Rumors that spread following inspection by the agricultural ministry have affected milk consumption in Kathmandu as well as other major cities of the country,” she said, adding that this has affected both farmers and dairy producers.

She added that dairy producers use soda in milk to keep it fresh for longer period of time. “Soda is used to keep the milk fresh, not to affect consumers' health,” she said, requesting public to consume milk after boiling it appropriately.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Land Management and Cooperatives had inspected different dairy producers, including the state-owned Dairy Development Corporation (DDC), on June 11. Microbiological test found presence of soda in 42 samples and coliform in 33 out of 36 samples. The test was conducted by Department of Foot Technology and Quality Control.

Findings of the microbiological test were carried with great prominence leading media outlets of the country. This affected demand for milk and other dairy products across the country.

Talking to Republica, Narayan Prasad Devkota, chairman of Central Dairy Co-operative Association Ltd, Nepal (CDCAN) said that daily demand for milk has come down by as much as 80,000 liters following the inspection of dairy producers by a government team.

The country produces around 4.9 million liters of milk every day and around 700,000 liters of the total production is estimated to be consumed by consumers after it is processed by dairy producers.

“Due to baseless news that most of the milk brands available in the market is not fit for consumption, demand for milk is falling with each passing day,” Devkota said. He further added that presence of coliform bacteria and soda in milk is a 'minor issue'.

Officials of Nefosta said that pasteurization process and hygienic production environment can deal with the problem of coliform bacteria in milk. Generally the dairy industry uses soda powder to prevent milk from acidifying, they added.

“Presence of soda powder in milk is no deal. What matters is the percentage of soda powder in milk,” Dilip Subba, former president of Nefosta, said. He also added that the government team carried out inspection in dairy plants without seeking help of experts. “In the lack of experts, wrong information can go in the market,” he added.

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