Following the Chinese government’s request to lift the ban on import of milk and allied milk products, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has asked state governments to test Chinese milk samples and submit their reports within a month. FSSAI is an autonomous statutory body administered by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Chinese milk and milk products were found to have high content of melamine, consumption of which could lead to fatal diseases. India imposed a ban on the import of milk and allied products in 2008, following deaths of children in China due to the consumption of melamine-contaminated milk. The ban is till June 2010.
The authority has now set up a central committee to review the state governments’ findings on Chinese milk samples and take a decision on the import ban. The committee comprises scientists and representatives from the National Dairy Development Board and the commerce ministry and Directorate of General Foreign Trade.
An FSSAI official, not willing to be quoted, told Business Standard: “We will adopt strict quality standards as despite the government’s claim that the quality has improved, reports are coming in that the melamine issue is very much there. Countries in Europe and the US have already reviewed the ban, but none of these countries has lifted the ban. This validates the Chinese media reports.”
The official also said since India was self-sufficient in milk production, there was no urgency to lift the ban. Only 10 per cent of total milk consumption in India is fulfilled by imports.