India is the largest milk producing country in the world and contributes to almost 20 percent of global milk production. The White Revolution in India brought an increase in the per capita availability of milk thus adding to the nutritional intake of the children and youth. It is with great efforts from the Government and initiatives taken to support the dairy food industry that the net importer from the past transformed into a net exporter of dairy products. The exports are done to important destinations including Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Egypt, Nepal etc. With respect to the imports, the major imports of dairy products come from Australia, New Zealand, and France. The imports are mainly of the milk and cream concentrates, whey powders and cheese. Here we discuss FSSAI Guidelines for Milk & Milk Products.
Various Sources of Milk Products:
Dairy products or Milk products include varieties of milk like whole milk, skim milk, buttermilk; yogurt, ice cream and varieties of cheese like Swiss cheese, cheddar cheese, cottage cheese etc. Milk is the major filler of our calcium requirement, especially for the vegetarians. Still, milk, yogurt, and cheese are known to be the best sources of calcium.
Benefits of Milk and other Dairy Products:
Milk and dairy products are the major sources of calcium and protein. One liter of milk is known to provide approximately 1200 mg of Calcium to the body. Calcium in milk gets easily absorbed in the bones. Vitamin A and lactose increase the absorption of Calcium.
Research has revealed that the dairy industry has witnessed a considerable fall over the past few decades. The reduced consumption of milk in the major population will definitely impact the health and well being adverse. This decrease in milk consumption will leave a damaging impact on the nutritional requirements of the body, especially the amount of Calcium needed for the development of bones.
When researched, it came out that the teenagers and women in particular and the masses, in general, are avoiding the consumption of milk on a daily basis because of its fat content. But the fact remains that Calcium which is the major mineral supplied through the intake of milk and other dairy products is vital for the growth and development of children and also for the development of bones and skeletal system.
FSSAI Guidelines for Milk Packaging:
Playing its role in regulating the safety and standards in the food industry, the FSSAI has even issued guidelines to ensure the safety of the essential food commodity, the milk. Milk is equally important for the infants, children, and adolescents as it is for the elderly. Technology has advanced over the years to not only introduce new ways of packaging but also innovative machines offering automation. The new introductions in the field of packaging are user-friendly as well as they preserve the milk for a longer duration.
Various packaging styles popular for storage of milk and milk products include cans, bottles, pouches, Cartons or tetra packs. Soft recyclable pouches are the most preferred form of packaging because of easy handling, eco-friendliness, and cost-effectiveness.
Thermoformed plastic bottle is also a good packaging solution as it offers protection to the milk stored within from wide variations in temperature and from the exposure to Ultra Violet rays.
FSSAI, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India ensure that the regulations are in accordance with the food packaging industry as laid out in the Food Safety and Standards preparations. The key focus remains on eliminating the possibility of changing the contents of the package without tampering the seal and that each packaging which is ready for sale to the end consumer complies with the FSSAI food packaging regulations in India.
FSSAI has issued specific guidelines which are only related to packaging specifications of milk and milk products include:
- When it is about packing heat-treated milk and milk products, the bottling or filling of containers should be mechanically done; and sealing should be carried out automatically.
- Sealing should be done immediately after filling and at the same place where the last heat treatment of drinking milk took place. This sealing should be specifically done using a sealing device. This specification needs to be compiled as this will ensure that the milk remains protected from any unprecedented adverse effects which may be of external origin.
- Since milk is a fresh dairy product, hence the wrapping or packaging once used, should not be reused for dairy products. The exception is offered for the condition where the containers are reusable. Even then, one should take extreme care by reusing them after a thorough cleaning and disinfecting.
- Also, the milk and milk products should be kept in special rooms provided for storage, immediately after the packaging is completed.
A reason behind the Change in Packaging:
With the transition of milk packaging from glass bottles to impressive cans and packs, the revised guidelines are governed by the following changes:
- The changing lifestyle needed user-friendly packaging with reusability.
- The consumers demand as per their convenience.
- Ecological factors and environment were kept into consideration.
- The cost of production and recycling should be practically implementable.
The Shelf Life and Packaging:
FSSAI is focused only on the safety regulations of food production. This includes milk and dairy products also. But, FSSAI has no say about the shelf life of milk and milk products. The specifications and guidelines with respect to the shelf life of these products are not governed directly by FSSAI but the FBOs provide detailed information on the stability and shelf life of the product. This information is in conformance with the stability studies conducted by NABL accredited/FSSAI notified lab.
India stands amongst one of the fastest growing economies; and, the Milk and Dairy Food License Processing hold immense potential for growing the industry. The consumers are becoming aware of their health and lifestyle-related changes. Accordingly, they are making dietary changes to accommodate a more varied and nutritious diet which includes milk and dairy products in addition to fruits and vegetables, and poultry products etc. instead of relying on a completely cereal-based diet.