SURAKSHIT KHADYA ABHIYAN
Safety Precautions for Milk and Dairy Products
Milk is a key part of a healthy diet, loaded as it is with many essential nutrients that aid in the growth and development of children and help to maintain bone strength in adults. The recommended amount of milk and dairy products as mentioned in dietary guidelines for Indians (Indian Council of Medical Research – ICMR) is 200 ml to 300 ml per day. Milk is an excellent source of vitamin B, calcium, and protein of high biological value. At the same time, because milk is rich in all three macronutrients – namely protein, fat, and carbohydrate – it is more susceptible to spoilage compared to many other food items. Milk and dairy products, if not handled well, can lead to a variety of health disorders. Let us have a look at some health concerns associated with these.
For one, milk from cattle that has not been pasteurized or boiled can be harmful as it may be carrying bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. These can cause food-borne illnesses that have severe implications on health.
Antibiotics and Hormones in Milk
It has been found that consumption of dairy products containing high levels of insulin-like growth factor 1, or IGF-1, increases the risk of colon and breast cancer. A diet rich in dairy products must also
When cattle fall sick, they are administered antibiotics to overcome the illness. If such cattle are milked, the antibiotics are passed on to the human beings consuming the milk, in turn making them resistant towards antibiotics – so, when they confront an infection, a stronger dose of antibiotics is administered to them. To avoid infections, one must strengthen their immune system by consuming foods rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein.
Certain food products interfere with the metabolism of some drugs. It is advisable to avoid dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and butter milk one hour before and two hours after the administration of these drugs: aspirin, celecoxib, diclofenac, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, naproxen, doxycycline, minocycline, tetracycline, and linezolid.
Ever experienced bloating, diarrhoea, loose stools, acidity, pain or cramps in the lower belly, flatulence, nausea, or vomiting after consumption of milk and other dairy products? You might be afflicted with this peculiar condition called lactose intolerance, which is the inability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and milk products. Children as well as adults may have this intolerance, primarily caused due to deficiency of lactate enzyme.
There are different degrees of lactose intolerance depending upon the lactase secretion in human beings. Some individuals may be able to tolerate 150 ml–200 ml of milk in a day but develop symptoms after consuming more amounts of milk or dairy products; some can tolerate small portions of dairy throughout the day with a gap of four to five hours. It is recommended that fermented dairy products be consumed as they are tolerated well. Of course, one needs to find their own tolerance level towards dairy products. It’s important to note that lactose intolerance is different than milk allergy.
Lactose intolerance should not be confused with milk allergy — the terms may sound similar but they actually describe two different digestive problems. Also, one is more severe than the other. Lactose intolerance is caused by not having enough of the enzyme lactase, which is needed to break down lactose, the sugar found in milk and other dairy products. Milk allergy is a true food allergy caused by an allergic reaction to the protein in milk. Milk allergies involve immunological reactions, while lactose intolerance involves digestive factors. Milk allergies and lactose intolerance are therefore not similar conditions and should be treated differently.
Adults and children with milk allergy must eliminate milk products from their diets while making sure they get all of the nutrients found in milk through other foods or supplementation. It may be noted that milk allergies are rare in adults.
Fermented versus Non-Fermented Dairy Products
Fermented milk products are the dairy foods that have been fermented with lactic acid bacteria
such as Lactobacillus, Lactococcus, and Leuconostoc. Fermentation not only increases the shelf life of the product but also enhances the digestibility of milk. It is important to note that fermentation of milk can reduce the levels of hormones such as IGF-1.
Dairy products are often associated with acne. The tendency to develop acne is found more in individuals who consume non-fermented dairy products than those who consume fermented dairy products.
Buying, Handling, and Storing
Fact is, milk is susceptible to microbial spoilage. Another thing to be wary of is that local suppliers of milk and dairy products may add certain adulterants in the milk and sell them to consumers.
A cooperative that sells milk ensures the quality of milk before buying it and is equipped with transport and processing aids that prevent milk spoilage. Once the milk is pasteurised and packed, it is transported to retailers. Spoilage of milk and dairy products is dependent also on how milk is handled by retailers and buyers at their end. Milk and milk products must be stored at a temperature between 0 degrees C and 4 degrees C and must be kept in refrigerator shelves rather than the refrigerator doors. It is advisable to wash the milk packets when they are delivered by the retail vendors and then refrigerate them or boil them at the time. It is mandatory to check the ‘best before’ date before buying milk and dairy products – preferably it should be the one with the furthest date. When shopping at a supermarket, try to make the milk and dairy products the last items to be picked up. Refrigerate them as soon as possible after purchase. If you are a frequent user of Tetra Pak milk or any other dairy product that has a long shelf life, use that product which was bought first. Dairy products have a tendency to pick up odours and hence they must be stored in an airtight container once they are opened. Certain vitamins in milk and dairy products are photolabile – that is, they are destroyed when exposed to light – and so dairy products must be stored in containers to conserve their nutritional content.
be rich in vegetables and fruits since these reduce the risk of development of cancer.