London: Cow urine is being sold alongside food in convenience stores in the UK despite environment experts warning against the practice, according to a media report here.
Plastic bottles filled with cow urine, and marked “for religious purposes”, were found in several London stores which also sold food, the BBC’s Asian Network has claimed.
The liquid has a large demand in South Asian Hindu community who use it for various religious ceremonies – although it is illegal to sell it for human consumption in England, it said.
Known as ‘gau mutra’, it was found in several shops which also sold food. In one shop urine bottles were displayed under a shelf of naan bread.
However, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), an independent body representing environmental health concerns, has warned against its sale where food was present.
One worker in a shop in Greenwich said: “Hindus come in to buy it for religious reasons, if a baby is born it may be used during a religious ceremony in the house for good luck.”
A Hare Krishna temple in Watford, Bhaktivedanta Manor, has a dairy farm which also produces the urine for worshippers.
Managing director Gauri Das said the temple had been selling cow urine since the early seventies.
“There has been a demand from the South Asian background. They use it for puja’s [religious ritual], medicinal purposes or even cleaning in order to purify things,” he said.
“I don’t sell it [the urine] for human consumption. It is down to the worshipper to do what they want with it.”
A Foods Standards Agency (FSA) spokesperson said although it is illegal to sell the urine for human consumption, when applied externally it would not be considered food – although it could be subject to other legislation.
“If cow urine is on sale for human consumption, the business must be able to prove it is safe,” the CIEH said.
“If the business cannot prove the product is safe then it must not be on sale. We would strongly advise not to sell cow urine where food is present.”
A Greenwich Borough Council spokesperson said: “Non-food products of animal origin are strictly regulated to prevent consumers from being exposed to harmful diseases.
“We are not aware of any particular premises in the borough where this product is on sale but will investigate immediately upon receipt of further information,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying by the report.