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Is Punjab sugar penicillin-laced?
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 10
Are we consuming “harmful” chemicals along with the sugar supplied by certain cooperative sugar mills of the state? The answer is in the affirmative if one goes by the findings of a sugar manufacturing technologist of a cooperative sugar mill. But Sugarfed Punjab, the cooperative running 14 sugar mills of the state, denies such reports.

While Sukhwinderjit Singh, a sugar manufacturing technologist at Nakodar Cooperative Sugar Mill, has come out with a startling finding that certain cooperative sugar mills of Punjab have been using certain chemicals which were not only harmful for health but were also needless and had resulted in financial loss to mills, the top Sugarfed authorities have ruled out any such possibility. They maintained that no such chemical had ever been used nor was there any scope of it using due to the existing and foolproof strict quality control system in these mills.

Talking to The Tribune, Sukhwinderjit Singh, maintained that as per his findings certain chemicals such as viscosity reducer, scale softener, hydrogen peroxide and penicillin “being used” by certain cooperative mills were not only useless for the sugar manufacturing process, but, were also harmful for human health. Sukhwinderjit Singh, who claimed that his sole motive was to ensure the supply of chemicals-free sugar to people of the state maintained,” Not only this, the suppliers of special process chemicals and mill sanitation chemicals like anti-scalent and viscosity reducer do not mention the chemical composition or quality parameters on the containers. So, at the mills, we don’t know what was the exact composition or quantity of a chemical being used. There are no checks to ascertain the chemical composition. Moreover, penicillin used in certain mills as a biocide is the one which is unfit for human consumption and is prescribed for animals,” alleged Mr Sukhwinderjit Singh, who maintained that he had already passed on his findings to the Sugarfed authorities. “I have also discussed the issue with the Sugarfed Managing Director and his response was encouraging”. He maintained that one mill, on an average, was using these ‘not required’ chemicals, worth over Rs 1 crore annually.

“Most of these sanitation chemicals are used to enhance the capability of a mill but are needless and are used according to the whims and fancies of certain officials. “There is no requirement for these efficiency enhancers as most of our mills don’t function beyond an average period of 30 days. If a mill is given to me for experiment, I can run it without using any of these chemicals,” claimed Mr Sukhwinderjit Singh.

On the other hand, Mr K.B.S. Sidhu, the Managing Director of sugarfed Punjab, refuted the allegations of Mr Sukhwinderjit Singh. “No harmful chemical is being used in mills throughout India and I can say it with surety that there is no possibility to do so as the existing exhaustive and regular checks at various levels within the mills, at national level and by the health authorities are carried out regularly. Can you imagine that our network of mills, working under a proper system, can afford to supply sugar with harmful contents?” retorted Mr Sidhu.

He said as per the suggestion and plea of Sukhwinderjit Singh, he was allowed to experiment by running two cooperative sugar mills at Morinda and Budhewal, but he failed to come out with the promised results.

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