Maha churns butter for Centre, wants margarine off the table

Mumbai: Even as the milk crisis in the state over rising disparity between demand, supply and lower pricing has spilled on to the streets, the Maharashtra Dairy Development Minister Sunil Kedar has raised alarm over the use of margarine as a substitute to butter in the state and rest of the country.

In a letter to Union Minister of Animal Husbandry Giriraj Singh, Kedar said the food joints are indulging in the rampant illegal substitution of butter with margarine causing huge economic losses to genuine dairy farmers and deceiving consumers. He added that both products are different with distinct nutritional values and use.

In India, 5,000 tonne of table butter and margarine is produced every day. Table butter costs Rs 400 per kg while margarine is Rs 100 per kg. Industry sources said margarine is a preferred choice because of its lower cost. Kedar has urged the Centre to ban the use of margarine as a substitute to butter. He has called for amendments in Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) standards to prevent illegal substitution of butter with margarine.

‘’In India around 150 companies are registered under vegetable oil processing or proprietary products, which are involved in manufacturing and sale of margarine. Various multinational companies are also manufacturing margarine and aggressively marketing their products on a large scale. Due to availability of cheap substitute and analogous products such as margarine some food joints are tempted to maliciously use food products as consumers cannot distinguish,’’ said Kedar. He added that around 25 to 30 per cent of the table butter is substituted by margarine. Such malpractices on the part of traders are ultimately causing huge economic losses to poor dairy farmers.

Kedar said there are restrictions imposed for the use of margarine in the US and Europe. ‘’There are different colours used to differentiate margarine from butter. This can be introduced in India too,’’ he noted. He has appealed to the Centre to direct FSSAI to suitably modify the regulations of margarine to protect the interest of large consumers’ health and poor milk farmers’ economy.

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