The dairy industry in Sri Lanka is supported by both local and foreign multinational companies.
The dairy industry is one of the most prominent industries which almost never had a decrement. Sri Lankans have this beverage when they wake up in the morning. Milk is a nutrients rich healthy drink which offers a range of health benefits such as healthy bones and teeth. Milk promises all this because it has minerals namely calcium and vitamins (Vitamin D). They play an essential role in teeth and bone development and reduce heart diseases because milk contains a high potassium level which reduces sodium intake. The consumption of milk reduces the risk of cancer and depression due to the presence of vitamin D and enhances muscle building due to the richness of protein it contains.
The dairy industry in Sri Lanka is supported by both local and foreign multinational companies. During year 2017 local dairy production was 327,607,200 liters (Department of Census and Statistics, Sri Lanka). However still foreign multinational companies play the leading role in the industry by importing 48 billion worth of dairy products (Central Bank of Sri Lanka). However, the milk powder consumption in Sri Lanka suddenly dropped during last two months. Since recently we have a burning problem regarding the quality of imported dairy products from foreign countries. These days’ people are confused whether imported milk powder is adulterated with DCD? That is why I have penned this article.
What is DCD?
DCD is Dicyandiamide, a synthetic chemical compound developed about 30 years ago which consists of elements like carbon, nitrogen and hydrogen and is a precursor to melamine, the chemical found in powdered milk a few years ago.
Reasons to add DCD
Cattle grazing on such pastures excrete urine in large volumes. And Nitrate is a major soil nutrient that is one of the oxidized products of urine. Soil microorganisms and other major oxidized products are gases. Nitric oxide and nitrous oxide have the greenhouse effect. Nitrate is highly soluble in water. Subsequently it is leached into the surface and ground water sources which have posed severe pollution risks in countries which have many dairy farms. As a solution to environmental pollution, they have found a chemical which has DCD. It has the ability to manage the transformation of ammonia in cattle’s urine into pollutants namely gases nitric oxide, nitrous oxide and nitrate in grasslands. This is done in order to reduce the negative effects of greenhouse gas emission and nitrate leaching into water ways. In addition to that, farmers have been used to promote the growth of grass where cows graze.
DCD is Dicyandiamide, a synthetic chemical compound developed about 30 years ago which consists of elements like carbon, nitrogen and hydrogen and is a precursor to melamine, the chemical found in powdered milk a few years ago
How DCD is added in dairy products
As a result of cows feeding on contaminated grasses with DCD, there is a probability of DCD entering into cattle. Within cattle’s digestive system, it will undergo various enzymatic pathways to metabolize and finally it could excrete through cow dung and urine. However, any residues of DCD can enter into other organs of cattle and very firstly in cow’s milk. Therefore, certainly it will be included in powdered milk. In contrast, still it is questionable whether this amount coming via the food chain is high enough to be in a detectable level even with a sophisticated instrument.
According to the FAO, in 2008, 39,965 infants have received medical treatments after consuming infant formula and in total, 12,892 infants had been hospitalised due to international adulteration of milk with melamine. Apart from that research studies have shown that there was an increased number of infants and young children in China who started to develop unexplained urinary tract stones. This condition led to several baby deaths. Because, during that particular time, China was allowed to use melamine for further dilution of milk since adding of high nitrogen compounds to dairy food gave the appearance of higher protein content reading and fetched a higher price. This is because Amino acids are the basic units of protein. The presence of one unit of nitrogen is a common feature in any amino acid. Therefore, when there is a contamination with DCD like compounds, nitrogen in DCD also quantifies and is accounted to its total protein content.
Former research findings in SL
During 2012/2013 we faced the same problem with regard to dairy product contamination with the chemical compound namely melamine. According to research studies carried out by Industrial Technology Institute (ITI) in September 2012, they detected 371 DCD contaminated milk powder samples and after testing 1,992 samples, found 3 milligrams of DCD in a kilogram of milk powder which is at high risk level.
Furthermore, the test concluded that the traces of dicyandiamide (DCD) had been found in four brands of milk imported to Sri Lanka from New Zealand. After analyzing 10 milk powder samples from a company, they have detected 0.64 mg of DCD in every 1 kg of milk powder and no traces of DCD were found in local milk powder.
Within cattle’s digestive system, it will undergo various enzymatic pathways to metabolize and finally it could excrete through cow dung and urine. However, any residues of DCD can enter into other organs of cattle and very firstly in cow’s milk
Impact of DCD
The toxicity of DCD is still unclear due to non-existence of direct ingestion on this. In past Chinese infants and young children had suffered from unexplained urinary tract stones and several baby deaths also occurred. Therefore, the presence of even minute quantities of a potentially toxic chemical residue in milk when consumed by infants and young children, exposes them to danger.