Milk must be free from lead and alfatoxins

Dear Editor:
Dairy farmers as a mark of protest threw away milk in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka on 22 June terming “low” the proposed tariff hike on milk import from 5 to 10 percent. The proposed duty increase will not be enough to protect the domestic producers from the competition of imported milk, said the Bangladesh Dairy Farmers Association (BDFA). “We demand anti-dumping duty and an increase in the overall import tariff to 50 percent,” said BDFA. On May 06 dairy farmers demanded the government hike the import duty on powdered milk by 50 percent and also impose anti-dumping duty in upcoming the budget for the sake of the domestic industry.Anti-dumping duty is a protectionist tariff that a government imposes on foreign imports that it believes are priced below fair market value.
Thus such import has created an unfair competition, which is destroying a flourishing sector.Consequently, he urged for increasing the price of milk to Tk 70 per litre from existing Tk 30 to 35. The farmers’ other demands include price fixing of milk, constructing milk chilling centres across the country and zero duty on cattle feed. Local milk production increased threefold in the last 10 years, according to dairy farmers’ association. Thousands of young entrepreneurs are joining for the sector’s enhanced potential.It is desirable that the government should provide subsidies and other privilege, which will create more employment.
However, it was alarming to learn that at least 15 percent raw milk and 3 percent packed milk had high lead and alfatoxins (toxins produced by certain fungi) higher than the maximum residue level (MRL) which is legally tolerated in food or feed, the Daily Star reported on February 11, 2019. Though lead above MRL was found in one curd sample, 51 percent of positive curd samples had higher levels of bacteria. About 69 percent positive samples of cow feed had higher levels of chromium, 100 percent samples had drug residues, while excessive aflatoxins were found in 19 percent cow feeds.
Pesticide was found exceeding MRL in 100 samples and antibiotic above MRL in 13 percent raw milk, among the positive samples. About 96 percent raw milk had the presence of higher levels of bacteria. Bacteria was present in 66-80 percent samples of local and imported packed milk, while around 30 percent packed milk had antibiotic tetracycline above MRL.Besides, 60 to 80 percent local packed milk fails to meet the microbial safety parameters.
Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security and development today. Heavy metals in milk or any edible items may cause a wide range of health effects including cancer.
According to Mohidus Samad Khan, associate professor at BUET’s chemical engineering department, regular consumption of milk contaminated with pesticide residues may cause pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, leukaemia, skin sensitisation, allergic reaction and rash. He also said excessive use of antibiotics like enrofloxacin and cyprosin in cattle feeds may cause antibiotic resistance, which reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of antibiotics on bacterial infection and diseases.
AMK Chowdhury

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