The state-run processed foods giant Mother Dairy said its milk is safe for consumption and the two samples that were found to be sub-standard were drawn before these could be taken to its factories for quality tests and processing.
"It is unfortunate that loose milk samples, collected at village level and yet to be accepted for processing at our factory, allegedly did not pass the tests of the Uttar Pradesh Food and Drugs Administration," said S. Nagarajan, Mother Dairy managing director.
"The milk sample reported has been drawn even before reaching the chilling centre where the first level of testing happens to ascertain the quality of milk for further processing," Nagarajan told a press conference.
He also said it was unfair to associate the samples tested by the food safety authority, that were not processed, to the company. "This erodes the confidence of the consumer."
The press meet was called to explain the company's stand after two samples of Mother Dairy milk were taken and one of them tested positive for detergents. Ram Naresh Yadav, chief of the food safety body in Agra, said they were drawn from collection centres near Agra in November 2014.
"The samples were sent to the Lucknow lab which declared both of them substandard. The company challenged the results and demanded the samples be sent to the Kolkata lab which too found them defective. The Kolkata lab found one sample contained detergent," said Yadav. Nagarajan said the future course of action was being decided.
"We haven't received the tests from Kolkata lab yet, and we shall work with the food regulatory authority regarding the issue," he said. Nagarajan also sought to explain the process and said milk is first pooled from farmers and then sent to chilling centres through tankers. Every can is then distilled and processed with four levels of thorough testing -- at input, processing, dispatch and even after they reach the market. "As a responsible organisation we follow 100 percent testing protocol, not random testing."
According to Ram Mohan, company's operations head: "For the past 45 years we have been following the same food safety procedures before they reach the market. We check for quality levels even after the products are in the market to ensure that the product available is safe for consumption."
Answering a question if there was any testing done at the collection centres, Nagarajan said the mechanisms are still being developed by its parent organisation, National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), with the company's own team to detect adulteration at that stage itself. He said the company does not want the consumer confidence to be lost.