Adulteration of milk

Egypt's Dar Al-Ifta

Adulteration of milk



I work in the field of milk cooling and its distribution to processing companies. These companies demand certain PH levels for the milk, specifically 13%, which is the level of acidity upon milking. However, PH levels rise to 20% or even more from the time of milking until the milk reaches the temperature necessary for transportation to the processing companies. The milk processing companies refuse to purchase milk with such high PH high levels, so I must resort to adding ammonia or caustic soda to reduce acidity to the required level—a common practice in this industry (the milk processing companies are aware of this practice). I am also aware that water is added to the milk I purchase from farms, and that its PH is higher than the required level.

- Are such additions permissible?
- If so, in what percentage is the addition of these ingredients permissible?
- Is it permissible to add water to milk?


After consulting the Head of the Food Industry and Nutrition Division at the National Research Center, and specialists in this field, the following is concluded:
Egyptian, as well as international standards, criminalize the act of adding any ingredients, hazardous or otherwise, that changes the physical or chemical properties of milk. Any person who violates these regulations is subject to a punishment, the minimum of which is the confiscation of the milk.

Statutory regulations for cooled or pasteurized liquid milk

Definition of milk
It is the natural secretions of the mammary glands of mammals in which acidity (lactic acid) levels are no higher than 0.16%-0.17%.

The chemical composition of milk
- 87% water
- 4.5 - 5% carbohydrates (milk sugar - lactose)
- 3 - 3.5% fats (cow milk) and 5.5-9% (buffalo milk)
- 3.3% proteins (cow milk) and 4.5% (buffalo milk)
- Minerals (calcium)-120 mg./liter (cow milk) and 108 mg./liter (buffalo milk)
- Minute quantities of some vitamins and mineral salts.

Methods of adulterating milk
1 – Dilution by adding water or extracting some of the cream.
2 – Adding skim milk.
3 – Adding starch or binding agents to diluted milk to enhance viscosity and consistency.
4 – Adding table salt or sugar to raise the reading of the lactometer and thus increase the specific gravity of milk.
5 – Adding a coloring agent such as annatto to give adulterated buffalo milk the appearance of cow milk.
6 – Adding preservatives such as formaldehyde, borax, and hydrogen peroxide or alkaline substances such as sodium carbonate or bicarbonate, caustic soda, ammonia, or antibiotics.
7- Some people might resort to selling reconstituted powdered milk as fresh liquid milk or mix powdered milk with fresh liquid milk.
These widespread methods of milk adulteration and other still unknown methods are illegitimate.

Problems associated with milk adulteration
1 – Numerous health problems which differ [in nature] according to the manner of adulteration.
2 – Reduced nutritional value of milk and dairy products.
3 – Difficulties which arise upon processing milk or upon its utilization in manufacturing some dairy products specially milk adulterated by adding preservatives, chemicals, or antibiotics and used in the manufacture of fermented milk or some kinds of cheese.


Pursuant to rules and legislation, standard specifications and scientific opinion, it is impermissible to add any extraneous ingredients in any percentage whether or not it causes any health hazards.

End of report.

The Ruling

- Cheating is prohibited in Islamic law.
- Cheating in foodstuff, especially infant formula, is prohibited. This prohibition is based upon various hadiths such as the following:
Abu Hurayra, may God be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
"Whoever cheats us is not one of us" [Muslim and others].
Al-Bayhaqi and al-Asbahani related that Abu-Hurayra, may God be pleased with him, was passing through al-Hurra in Medina al-Menawara, when he came upon a man carrying some milk for sale. Seeing him mix the milk with water, Abu Hurayra said: "What will you have to say when you are asked on the Day of Judgment to extract the water from the milk?"
Due to the reasons mentioned above and others as well, it is impermissible to add ammonia or other similar preservatives to maintain the PH levels of the milk. It is likewise impermissible to add water or change the natural composition of fresh milk.
And God Almighty knows best.


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