Fake news on contaminated milk damages dairy product reputations

The Myanmar Dairy Association holds a news conference yesterday concerning fake news disseminated on Facebook that incorrectly said locally produced milk was contaminated. Photo: May Thet Hnin

The sale of milk saw a steady drop owing to fake news spreading on Facebook in recent months.
The dissemination of incorrect information began several years ago, when the Myanmar translation of press statements concerning adulterated milk by the Department of Chemistry at the University of Kashmir in 2013 was mentioned on Facebook in 2013, 2015 and 2018. Local people misunderstood it and became concerned, according to a press conference by the Myanmar Dairy Association, operating under the Myanmar Livestock Federation, held yesterday to refute the fake news.
The fake news purported that urea, detergent powder, soda, palm oil, benzoic acid, salicylic acid, ammonium sulphate and formalin are used to make adulterated milk, threatening public health.
“Even close friends of mine asked me about the fake news. Sure, there are a certain number of consumers who are worried about this. Milk sales are dropping remarkably. My business showed a decline of 15 per cent in sales,” said U Zaw Moe Than from the Arman dairy business.
“During the Ramadan period, milk supply was usually low. We even had to express our apologies to our customers. This year’s sales figures indicate a steady decline, which might be attributed to the poor economic climate and the spreading of fake news on Facebook,” said U Tin Win from Ngwesinpale dairy enterprise.
The rumours are completely unfounded, officials said. Such cases do not occur in Myanmar, and dairy entrepreneurs run their businesses with FDA approval. Even some milk products without FDA certificates found in the domestic market do not contain harmful ingredients or mixtures, said businessmen and researchers.
Dairy businessmen use machines which test the quality of the milk. Likewise, milk entrepreneurs produce purified milk.
The public should not trust widespread rumours and be critical of the news source, officials said. If any disputable news is found, it should be reported with evidence to the teams that deal with consumer complaints, which will handle the issues based on evidence and scientific technology, said U Maung Maung, secretary of the Myanmar Consumers Union.
About 80 per cent of Myanmar’s milk comes from dairy farmers, and any damage to their trade would cause a negative impact on them.
The milk consumption rate in Myanmar is 10 to 12 litres per person. That rate is over six times less than that of Asian countries and much lower compared to global countries.

 

By May Thet Hnin

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