There may be a silent killer in the milk you drink! The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is looking to regulate the livestock farming industry after a recent survey of milk samples revealed the presence of Aflatoxin M1, a liver cancer-causing toxin.
Up to 5.7 percent of the 6,432 milk samples tested had the presence of Aflatoxin M1, said persons intimately familiar with the tests and the results. They did not want to be named.
Aflatoxins are toxins produced by certain fungi found in crops like maize, peanuts, cottonseed, etc. Consumption of this by cattle can lead to the presence of deadly Aflatoxin M1 in milk. Long-term exposure to Aflatoxins has several health consequences including liver cancer, said a note by the FSSAI.
Aflatoxin is naturally occurring and there is no way to take it out from the food chain unless weeded out from the source, say experts. To control this toxin from entering the food chain, India’s food regulator is exploring options to regulate the feed and fodder industry.
When contacted, a spokesperson for FSSAI said, “The proposal to bring feed regulation under FSSAI purview is under consideration.”
Globally, food and feed are regulated by the same agency. Monitoring and regulation will take place in line with global standards if permitted, said an official close to the development. FSSAI has already prescribed limits for Aflatoxins. According to FSSAI standards, the permissible limit of aflatoxins in milk is 0.5 parts per billion.
The food regulator has already set the ball rolling in this direction. The persons quoted above told CNBC-TV18 that FSSAI has submitted a proposal to the health ministry for approval to regulate the feed and fodder space. The proposal is under review at this point in time and if approved, there will need to be an amendment to the FSS Act, say sources.
India is estimated to be one of the fastest-growing animal feed markets in the world. Considering the size of India’s feed industry, which stood at Rs 40,000 crore in 2018, FSSAI may have its task cut out.
“At present, there is a vacuum in the space as there is no agency monitoring animal feed. It may be tough but if it helps bring about better control in primary production then it is worth the effort,” said a food safety official, requesting anonymity.
Regulation by the food safety authority could bring about better manufacturing practices, fodder storage as well as distribution.