Mumbai, Aug 3: Taking a serious note of sale of ‘synthetic milk', the Bombay High Court yesterday directed Maharashtra government to provide every dairy in the state with testing kits to detect the presence of chemicals.
A public interest litigation filed by Pune-based S M Joshi Memorial Association says that Food and Drug Administration had found presence of sodium lauryl ether sulphate (SLES), a carcinogenic, in milk samples.
Division bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and S C Gupte asked the FDA to state on affidavit whether the kits to detect chemicals such a sorbitol (a sweetener) and SLES, used to make synthetic milk, were provided to all the dairies—private or cooperative—by August 30.
“If the answer is in the negative, then we expect the government to indicate in what time limit these kits would be made available,” the bench said.
Jane Cox, lawyer for the petitioner, stated that of the 15 FDA laboratories in the state, five were non-functional. The bench directed the government to recruit staff for these labs and provide them with adequate equipment.
Additional Government Pleader Samir Patil said the government had already sanctioned six mobile laboratories.
The judges said they should be made functional at the earliest. Cox said during raids in 2009, FDA found sorbitol and SLES adulteration for the first time.
“The test methods available with the dairies are not equipped to detect these chemicals,” she said, arguing that all the dairies in the state should be equipped with the necessary kits.