The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Milk major whips up quality-skim scheme

Doodh ka doodh, pani ka pani. That’s how things are going to be, if efforts by the Mother Dairy management — to make recalcitrant retailers toe the stringent quality and quantity-control lines — are anything to go by.

The milk major, with a daily consumer base that would run into six digits, is taking serious note of the complaints trickling in against the retail outlets and mini-dairies that constitute its bridge with customers.

Mother Dairy has now rolled out a mobile milk-testing laboratory, with plans for a few more in the near future. It has put in place a 50-member team of inspectors and another smaller special vigilance squad — all to keep the number of complaints in check and end-users happy.

“We understand that our brand-image is built by the service provided by our retailers and mini-dairies. For millions of Calcuttans, they provide the visible face of Mother Dairy,” said assistant manager (quality control) Sanjib Mukherjee.

“With that end in view, we plan to do everything we can to convince consumers that their interest is uppermost on the minds of Mother Dairy,” he added.

Mother Dairy has over a thousand retail outlets, including the mini-dairies, that dot the city. Together, they vend millions of litres of milk every day to thousands of Calcuttans, making it by far the largest supplier of milk in the city.

The number of complaints — considering the large customer base — is nothing, say Mother Dairy officials. But one recent complaint — lodged by a consumer against a retail outlet on Raja Dinendra Street, in north Calcutta — has set them thinking, they admitted. “This is one of the first complaints that has reached a police station,” a Mother Dairy official explained.

According to the complaint lodged with Mother Dairy, the retailer habitually used an aluminium tin — instead of the calibrated beaker provided by Mother Dairy — to pour the milk. “This resulted in consumers getting less milk,” the complainant, Sankar Lal Singh, alleged.

Following an on-the-spot probe by Mother Dairy officials, Singh turned to the Narkeldanga police station. Alleging that he had been threatened by the retailer, he sought security for himself and his family, as things were “taking a turn for the worse”.

“We have visited the outlet in question and asked the retailer to go by the book,” Sanjib Mukherjee said. “But we cannot take care of the law-and-order problems that may crop up from a retailer-consumer dispute and have made this clear to the consumer,” he added.

Mother Dairy officials, however, insist there is a “mechanism” to ensure that such problems don’t snowball. The mobile laboratory is used for surprise checks on retailers and mini-dairies, they add.

“We have an internal mechanism — comprising a 50-member inspection team and a six-member special vigilance squad — that allows us to issue a 24-hour deadline to any errant retailer and then take appropriate action against him,” said an official.

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