Urea—a compound found in urine and commonly used in fertilizers—was among other adulterants found in contaminated milk samples.
A study testing adulterants in milk have found samples testing positive for sucrose, skim milk powder, neutralizers, salt, urea, formalin, hydrogen peroxide, and detergents, The Huffington Post reports. The Department of Biochemistry at Bhavan’s Vivekananda College in Hyderabad, India conducted the study, reviewing 50 milk samples from the capital city and detailed the troubling finds in its report published in the Journal of Chromatography & Separation Techniques. Authors pointed out while the addition of some of the mentioned adulterants—water and skim milk powder, for example—would affect only the nutritional value of milk, others could have potentially hazardous (and even lethal) effects ranging from indigestion and mood and balance alteration to damage to the intestinal tract, impaired vision, and cancer. Urea, a substance found in urine, is added to make milk appear whiter, but it also “overburdens the kidneys as they have to filter out more urea content from the body,” which can lead to malfunctioning of the organs. Formalin—a solution of formaldehyde and water—is added to help boost shelf life, while detergents diluted with water are added to “mimic the foamy appearance” of milk but can also cause gastro-intestinal complications, hypotension, and cancer. It’s noted that there has yet to be any report of similar contamination of nut-based and other vegan milks.