New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed concern over the sale of adulterated milk in the country, saying it is a serious issue and action needs to be taken by the state governments to curb it.

"It is a very serious issue. There is no doubt that it is happening all over the country. What action is being taken by the government?" a bench of Justices KS Radhakrishnan and Pinaki Chandra Ghose asked.

The bench directed the governments of Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Delhi to file their response stating what action they are taking to put an end to the menace of milk adulteration.

The court said that it would later on expand the ambit of the PIL to include all the states in the country on the issue. The bench posted the matter for hearing on July 31 and made it clear that no further time will be given to the states to file their submissions.

The court also observed that the adulteration is because of gaps in demand and supply of milk. It was hearing a PIL filed by a group of citizens, led by Swami Achyutanand Tirth of Uttarakhand, who have alleged that synthetic and adulterated milk and milk products are prepared using urea, detergent, refined oil, caustic soda and white paint, which, according to studies, are "very hazardous" to human life and can cause diseases like cancer.

Apart from a check on the sale of synthetic and adulterated milk and various dairy products, the PIL has also sought framing of a "comprehensive" policy on the production, supply and sale of healthy, hygienic and natural milk.

On October 21, last year, the Centre had informed the Apex Court that over 68 percent of milk in the country does not conform to the standards set by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). The Centre, in its submission, had referred to a survey conducted by FSSAI, which had found that over 68 percent of the "non-conforming" milk was found in urban areas, 66 percent of which was loose milk.

The Centre's affidavit had also stated that over 83 percent of the non-conforming milk in rural areas was found to be loose milk.

(Agencies)

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