Human Milk Siphoned Off From Banks To Industries

Pune: Those in the beauty and the fitness industries seem to be taking “Mother’s milk is best” quite seriously. The beauty industry is allegedly using human milk for facials and skin improvement by siphoning off milk from human milk banks. The fitness industry too is known for diverting the milk from milk banks for certain products. Meanwhile, there are numerous complaints of milk banks making money from those seeking milk for their newborns under the guise of “maintenance” and “culture” fees. These serious grievances, along with rising malpractices, compelled the Human Milk Bank Association of India to request the government to regulate the increasing number of banks and end such illegalities.
“We noticed that many malpractices were coming to the fore. Many were commercialising human milk and selling it in the name of Ayurveda and as a life-saving drug, with prices reaching Rs 30,000 per litre. There were also allegations of milk being siphoned off for the beauty and fitness industries and even extracting stem cells from the milk due to their high disease-curing properties. Given the rise in such illegalities, we decided that human milk, which is only meant for newborns, should not be misused. We brought these malpractices to the notice of the administration and demanded strict action against these rising crimes in milk banks,” said Dr Satish Tiwari, national president of the Human Milk Bank Association, in an interview with Pune Times Mirror.
Dr Tiwari, who is based in Maharashtra, explained how the fitness industry is known to siphon off milk from milk banks. “Usually, they lure the staff by offering large sums and use the milk as growth hormones. Human milk is rich in proteins and vitamins, making it highly valuable. In the beauty industry, it is used in facials and creams to enhance beauty. We only want the human milk, which is donated voluntarily by lactating mothers, to go to the genuine beneficiaries, that is, the neonates, and not to anyone misusing the product,” he said matter-of-factly.
When contacted, the FDA of Maharashtra confirmed the issue of human milk being siphoned off for the fitness and beauty industries. On Saturday, the FSSAI notified all FDA commissioners nationwide to investigate and regulate all milk banks, whether attached to government hospitals or medical colleges, to check for any commercialisation or malpractices involving human milk.
“There are rising complaints of human milk being misused, especially by the fitness and beauty industries, and also some trying to sell it off. Hence, this was a much-needed step to empower us legally to prohibit such violations,” said Ulhas Ingawale, joint commissioner of FDA Maharashtra.
Ingawale explained, “Earlier, milk banks were never regulated or under our jurisdiction, but now with FSSAI notifying us to look into the severity of the issue, we feel that strict action against unlicensed selling of milk will help us ensure action against violators.”
“To address the issue further, a meeting was conducted on Sunday for all district FDAs on how to monitor milk banks and watch the actions of staff members and frequent visitors to the milk banks,” Ingawale revealed.
“Now, any bank found selling milk to anybody will be pulled up. The milk is donated for free and voluntarily, and selling it for commercialisation purposes will never be allowed as it is meant for babies who need milk to survive,” he added.

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