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Ramakanta Biswas

Cuttack: At a time when consumers in the Silver City of Cuttack are grappling with adulteration menace, the detection of synthetic paneer comes as probably the biggest shocker for them with experts cautioning that such spurious dairy products can cause serious health hazards.

As a latest addition in the long list of adulteration items, more than one quintal of synthetic paneer was recovered from a bus during a raid at OMP Chhak by a joint team of Commissionerate Police and food inspecting officials of Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) today.

According to experts, synthetic paneer which is processed by harmful chemicals can adversely affect liver and kidney. "Consumption of the synthetic paneer will lead to vomiting, stomach upset and diarrhoea. So, eating such product is highly harmful for humans," said Doctor Dhirendranath Maharana.

CMC health officer Satyabrata Mohapatra, who was part of the joint team that seized the huge cache of synthetic paneer, said, "Though the diary product looks fresh, there are more than seven chemicals used in its production. Detergent used for washing clothes, white flour, urea, glycerine, sulphuric acid and spoiled milk are among other ingredients used in the product. It is difficult for consumers to identity the fake product as it looks like paneer."

According to sources, such artificially prepared paneer is transported to Cuttack from Kolkata in buses during night and sold to the customers in the morning.

Meanwhile, milk traders of the city welcomed the crackdown, but alleged that more such spurious products are entering the markets in the city every day.

"The seizure is just a tip of the iceberg. Every day more than 10 tonnes of product reach the city. Though the passenger buses do not have permission to ferry products, it is a matter of shock as to how such stuff are being transported. We want to question what is the transport department doing. In fact, we have written to the CMC numerous times in the last 10 years seeking action against unscrupulous milk traders selling synthetic products, but in vain," said secretary of Cuttack Milk Traders' Association, Pradeep Kumar Behera.

According to sources, traders buy synthetic paneer at Rs 60 per kg and sell to customers at Rs 220. While generally, the shelf life of milk products is very low, the chemical composition in the synthetic product helps it retain freshness even after 2 to 3 days.

Police suspect involvement of some sweet vendors of Cuttack in the racket. While Chauliaganj police detained one person in this regard, further inquiry is underway to find out which shops in Cuttack received the product and whether it is supplied to any other town of the State.

Amarendra Panda, ACP (zone-1), said, "We are inquiring where else the product is being supplied and who were procuring them. We learnt that the traders sold it on roadside and also supply to different marriage feasts."

"We urge the consumers to properly verify before buying paneer. We can check the purity of paneer by putting it in hot water and mixing iodine in it. If the paneer turns blue, that means it is adulterated," he added.

(Edited By Suryakant Jena)

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