HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: The Department of Food Technology and Quality Control has sealed six private dairy firms in Kathmandu valley after it found coliform — a bacteria found in poor quality food and water — in their products.
The department has issued a public notice urging people to avoid consuming milk produced by these companies. It sealed three dairies today, said senior food officer at the department Promod Koirala. “We have issued a public notice requesting people not to consume milk produced by these dairy firms,” he said.
According to Koirala, the department has found about 2,400 coliform count in one millilitre of milk during tests conducted at the laboratory. The Food Act has envisioned zero coliform in milk items and also states that milk must contain eight per cent Solid Not Fat and three per cent fat.
The department has found coliform in samples of 14 dairy firms and has decided to take legal action soon. According to Koirala, coliform bacteria should be killed through pasteurisation but the dairies have not been following the procedure properly. Pasteurisation is a process to destroy coliform by heating milk in 70 degrees centigrade for about 30 minutes.
“A high amount of coliform was reported in processed milk sold in the market. It is due to the negligence of the dairy firms,” he said. It is a public health concern, so the department will not tolerate it, added Koirala.
However, dairy entrepreneurs rejected the department’s claim that private dairies have been neglecting the law. “Zero coliform is not possible in our environment and cattle rearing situation,” said president of Dairy Industries Association Pradeep Maharjan. He accused the department for protecting the state-owned Dairy Development Corporation (DDC) and punishing private dairies.
“DDC has a similar problem but the government has not taken action against it,” said president of Nepal Dairy Association Meghraj Bhandari. He asked the government to take action against DDC to show impartiality.
About 400,000 litres of processed and packaged milk is distributed in the country. The private dairy sector distributes about 170,000 litres of milk daily while DDC distributes around 130,000 litres. About 100,000 litres of milk is marketed through small dairies without processing. Currently, the sector has an investment of over Rs 10 billion and about 100,000 farmers are engaged in the business.