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Mahatma Gandhi


33. Skimmed Milk

Prof. Warner of Allahabad Agricultural Institute sends me a copy of a note submitted by him to a Municipal Board in U.P. The Board has passed a bye-law requiring that "all skimmed milk sold in the city should be coloured in order that it may be easily identified as skimmed milk, thereby preventing its use in diluting or adulterating whole milk." Prof. Warner is of opinion that this is a dangerous bye-law whose effect would be total destruction of a valuable protective food. He has shown in the note, I think conclusively, that skimmed milk as an article of food is not to be despised, the only difference between whole milk and skimmed milk being that a large percentage of fat is removed from skimmed milk for preparing butter, but the milk retains all the salts and all the proteins. Adulteration, therefore, of whole milk with skimmed milk produces very little effect upon its nutritive value. Only the percentage of fat is reduced somewhat. He gives figures in support of his agrument which I need not reproduce. He does not mind bye-laws preventing adulteration even with skimmed milk. But he strongly objects, and I think rightly, to destroying skimmed milk by colouring it, and he shows that not only is a valuable article of diet taken away from the mouths of poor people, but the danger of adulteration of milk with water increases. And this danger is very real, because the greater the percentage of water the lower is the nutritive value of milk. And add to this the fact that the water itself may be impure. Prof. Warner draws a distinction between requiring the colouring of vegetable ghee for preventing adulteration of real ghee, and the colouring of skimmed milk. It is wholly necessary that vegetable ghee should be coloured with some innocuous dye. Coloured vegetable ghee will be used by the people for its cheapness. But as there is already prejudice against skimmed milk, people will refuse to take coloured skimmed milk, even though the colouring matter may' be utterly innocuous. I would on my own behalf enforce Prof. Warner's argument by suggesting that municipalities will do well to popularize the use of skimmed milk. It can be sold very cheap and it is a perfectly wholesome thing both for the rich and the poor, and is a good sick man's diet, when whole milk is rejected by the digestive apparatus.

On the train to Calcutta, 16-2-1940

Harijan, 9-3-1940