Did WHO warn the Indian government about milk adulteration? Are 68.7% of milk and its products sold not as per FSSAI standards?

Claim

The World Health Organization gave the Government of India an advisory warning, stating that without adequate tracking of milk adulteration, 87 per cent of citizens could be at risk of developing serious diseases, such as cancer, by the year 2025.

The state of adulteration in milk and milk products in the country is such that 68.7 per cent of milk and milk products sold is not as per the standards laid down by the FSSAI. Fact about India Milk production & Milk products

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Explanation

It is claimed that 68.7% of milk sold in India is not as per FSSAI standards, World Health Organization warned the Indian government to track milk adulteration, if not 87% of Indians would be at risk of developing serious diseases like cancer by 2025. This claim was initially posted by several news media outlets in 2018 after which it started spreading on social media platforms and is circulated till date. A few of such claims can be seen here, here, here, here and here.

What is the truth?

When searching the keywords of the claim, found several news portals publishing it. Also found ‘PIB Factcheck’ tweeting about it on 18, October 2022 mentioning the claim as fake. The tweet translates as follows: Has the World Health Organization issued an advisory saying that 87% of Indians will get cancer in 8 years due to adulteration of milk available in India? No, This claim is false. WHO has not issued any such advisory.

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The tweet also has attached a link to the WHO website which clarifies that the WHO did not issue any such advisory to the Indian government.

When Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) related claim is searched, it is found that Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) member Mohan Singh Ahluwalia allegedly said while chairing a meeting at Nawanshahr in 2018, “The state of adulteration in milk and milk products in the country is such that 68.7 per cent of milk and milk products sold is not as per the standards laid down by the FSSAI. The World Health Organisation (WHO) had recently issued an advisory to the Government of India stating that if adulteration of milk and milk products is not checked immediately, 87 per cent of citizens would be suffering from serious diseases like cancer by the year 2025.”

But FSSAI has denied the claim made by the AWBI member, Ahluwalia. It is to be noted that FSSAI CEO Pawan Agarwal said, “there is no such advisory from WHO. There is a fake report going around that says that a large number of Indians are at great risk of serious diseases due to the consumption of heavily contaminated milk. However, there is no such evidence for such an inference”.

The mentioned survey was conducted over a period of 6 months, between May to October 2018. We searched for the survey report of FSSAI. The full report of the survey for the year 2018 was released on 19, October 2019. And it says “your milk is largely safe”.

ANI’ News published an article in July 2019 with the title “FSSAI urges Centre to take action against AWBI member for ‘scaring’ milk consumers”.

This claim was also spread with a video claiming that artificial milk is made using chemicals. YouTurn published a fact-check article on the same in Tamil in August 2019 and can be viewed here.

Conclusion

In our search, it is apparent that the false claim made by Mohan Singh Ahluwalia, the board member of AWBI in 2018 is circulated on social media till date. Both WHO and FSSAI denied the claim.

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