A screenshot of a news paper clipping is being shared on social media claiming that the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued an advisory to the Government of India stating that 87% population of India will suffer from cancer by 2025 because of consuming adulterated milk. According to the post, WHO has stated that India produces only 14 crore litres of milk every day but consumes 64 crore litres of adulterated milk every day. The post claims that the Animal Welfare Board members have intimated government that 68.7 per cent of milk or milk products sold in the country are not as per the standards laid down by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). Let’s verify the claim made in the post.
Claim: WHO issued an advisory to the Government of India stating that 87% population of the country will suffer from cancer by 2025 because of the consumption of adulterated milk.
Fact: WHO did not issue any such advisory to the Indian Government over the issue of adulteration of milk or milk products. WHO and the Government of India have issued clarifications about this false news being shared on the internet. According to the Economic Survey 2021-22, the per day average milk production in India was 50.58 crore litres in the fiscal year 2020-21. Hence, the claim made in the post is False.
When we searched to check whether WHO had issued any such advisory note to the Indian government about 87% population might suffer from cancer because of consuming adulterated milk in the country, we found a press note issued by WHO regarding this viral news reported by a section of media. WHO in the press note stated, “Contrary to reports in a section of media, WHO would like to state that it has not issued any advisory to the Government of India on the issue of adulteration of milk/milk products.”
The Press Information Bureau (PIB) through a tweet clarified that WHO had not issued any such advisory to the Government of India. On 22 November 2019, while answering a parliament member’s question about the rumours of WHO issuing an advisory to the government over 87% population going to suffer from cancer because of consuming adulterated milk, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, the then Minister of Family and Health Welfare, stated that no such advisory was issued by WHO to the Government of India on milk adulteration.
Responding to the another question on 68.7 per cent of milk and milk products being sold in the country are not as per the standards laid down by the FSSAI, Harsh Vardhan stated, “The Nationwide Milk Safety and Quality Survey conducted by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in 2018 revealed that only 7% (456 out of total 6,432 samples) had contaminants (antibiotics, pesticides and aflatoxin M1) that make milk unsafe for consumption. Further, only 12 out of a total of 6,432 samples had adulterants that affect the safety of milk. These 12 samples include 6 samples adulterated with hydrogen peroxide, 3 samples adulterated with detergents, 2 samples adulterated with urea and one sample was found to have neutralizer.”
Milk production and consumption in India:
According to the Economic Survey 2021-22, the total milk production in the country for the fiscal year 2021-22 was 209.96 million tonnes. When the value is converted into litres, it is found that a total of 18,460.67 crore litres of milk was produced in the country in 2021-22. So, on average, 50.58 crore litres of milk was produced every day in the fiscal year 2020-21.
The milk consumption in the country is calculated on the basis of the per capita availability of milk. As per the Economic Survey 2021-22 annual report, the per capita availability of milk for the fiscal year 2021-22 was 427 grams. According to the National Statistical Office’s (NSO) household consumer expenditure (HCE) survey for 2011-12, the monthly per capita consumption of milk was 4.33 litres in rural India and 5.42 litres in urban India. Factly published a detailed article on the milk production and consumption statistics of India.
To sum it up, WHO did not issue any advisory to the Government of India on the issue of adulteration of milk or milk products.