Hindu priest talks ‘purifying benefits’ of cow’s urine after Ilford shop find
PUBLISHED: 07:00 05 February 2016 | UPDATED: 09:29 05 February 2016
As you walk down the grocery aisles you might expect to find milk, juice and other liquids but one store in Ilford has been found with a more unusual liquid on its shelves.
Quality Foods, Ilford Lane, has been selling cow urine or gau mutra by the bottle – to the surprise of some customers.
Manager Deepa Kashyap said the product was intended to be purchased by religious leaders.
“Priests or pandits (Hindu scholars) are the ones that buy it for ceremonies, but it is not to be drunk,” she said.
“It is used in India for religious and medical purposes and a lot of temples around here are starting to use it too.
“The cow is sacred and cows’ urine is sacred.”
Farooque Azad, a customer at the shop, sent a picture of the product into the Recorder.
He said he was concerned about the hygiene of selling the animal by-product near food items.
“People have the freedom to choose what they believe, but I think it is not hygienic and it’s not nice,” said Mr Azad.
Harish Raval, priest at VHP Hindu Centre, Cleveland Road, Ilford, has consumed the product and doesn’t think that it is unsafe or unhygienic. He believes there are medicinal benefits of using it.
“It’s a personal belief, if you have faith in God it’s safe,” he said.
“It’s used for health purposes and to purify places. Whenever we have prayers we sprinkle it.
“It purifies the soul, it’s like a divine bath – I have used it and I have drunk it myself, I don’t think it’s unsafe at all.”
Redbridge Council said it was investigating the issue. A spokeswoman said environmental health officers visited the premises but at the time of the visit did not see the product on sale.
She said: “We have no knowledge of the product being available anywhere else in the borough.
“This is a unique situation and we are taking advice from the FSA and Public Health England (PHE) regarding the sale of the product.”
A Food Standards Agency (FSA) spokesman said: “EU law considers the urine and faeces of farmed animals as animal by-products and these cannot enter the food chain.
“If cows’ urine were to be placed on the market as a food in the EU, it is likely it would be considered a novel food and its marketing in the EU would be prohibited until a safety assessment had been undertaken by the European Food Safety Authority.
“Urine applied externally, for example to daub the skin, would not be considered food and its marketing would not fall under food law, although other legislation could apply.”