The state Food and Drug Administration (FDA) got busy filing first information reports (FIR) against the big daddies of the dairy industry for their lack of quality control and delivery of spurious products. Now, to address the problem, both dairies and transporters have taken to vehicle tracking systems to track the tankers on the move. What ensued was a blame game, where dairies faulted transporters, claiming adulteration was happening in transit, and transporters refused to take the onus.
Last week, two transport companies and one dairy in the city rolled out tankers with GPS sensors fitted to the trapdoors atop and the outlet valve behind to monitor any tampering with the consignment en route. While these tankers have been in operation with the regular GPS to track their location, this is the first time sensors are being introduced for a more specific policing of the milk in transit. The system will be under the scrutiny of both the transporter and the dairy administration.
“When milk is being transported to distant places, the handling of the cargo is not completely in our control. When 500 litres of milk is loaded in to a truck and the weight does not tally at the delivery point, the finger is inevitably pointed at the transport company. Most truck drivers may be trustworthy, but a few unreliable among them are affecting the entire business. This cannot be allowed. It is better to be safe than sorry,” explained Rajendrasingh Rajput, chairman, Pune District Motor Transport Group, which is one of the companies that have embraced the technology.
“This technique has been in use in western countries as a safeguard against adulteration. We are adopting it now to have a foolproof system. While the existing GPS in our tankers kept us privy to the location of our vehicles, we will now be able to keep a close watch on the handling of the milk during its journey to the delivery point. The cost is minimal, but it will restore our credibility in the business, which is big,” pointed out Sandip Sondkar, vice-chairman of Datta Digambar Co-operative Milk Transport Society, another unit with a fleet of 40 vehicles, that is using the system.
Only in last December, FDA went on an FIR filing spree across the state against dairies not sparing even big brands such as Amul, Gokul, Mahananda, Aarey and Chitale. At that time FDA officials claimed to have detected sugar, palmolein and also urea in the milk being vended and resorted to filing the complaints on the ground that the additives were high on fat and lactose, compromising the health of the children who consume the product.
“Whenever milk is transported from one place to another, a detailed report on the milk loaded is sent to the point of delivery. This includes fat and protein content of the milk, its temperature, quantity, etc. When it reaches the destination, it is checked on these parameters for adulteration. But, on distant travel, the security of the product rests on the driver’s diligence and honesty,” said Vinayak Patil, chairman, Krushna Dairy and director of National Co-operative Dairy Federation of India.
While welcoming the technological safeguard being adopted, Dr Vivek Kshirsagar was not so convinced that it will completely resolve the issue of adulteration. “This may put a fullstop on some of the irregularities in milk transport, but unless there is complete honesty down the delivery chain, including the packaging and retail end, pure milk will continue to elude the consumer,” he said.
Interestingly, FDA officials who were trying to can the problem of adulteration, were not familiar with the technological development the dairy transportation has come into. Yet, when contacted on the matter, the state FDA’s joint commissioner, Shashikan Kenkare approved of the move. “Such technological support will work as a good control mechanism,” he noted.
“We have been offering the GPS solution to milk transporters for a while. Using the tracking system, they have been observing unscheduled stops, which became questionable when there were complaints on the quality of milk supplied. The transporters were being pinned for the quality slippage. In some cases, the transportation was done by the dairies themselves. To address the problem, the sensors have been introduced to alert the dairies and transporters every time the trapdoor atop the tanker or the outlet valve is opened,” explained Chandrashekhar Iyer, chief executive of Ezeetraker Technologies, a Pune-based company offering the solution.
Source: Pune Mirror