The Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) on Tuesday asked companies concerned to withdraw their substandard food products of different brands from the market within May 18. Although the High Court on Sunday ordered the authorities concerned to immediately withdraw these products, most of them were seen selling at different kitchen markets and grocery shops in capital Dhaka and elsewhere in the country under the very nose of the authorities concerned.
Meanwhile, a 16-member committee has been formed in order to control the standard of milk.
In the meantime, Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI), BFSA, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) and Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) continued to conduct anti-adulteration drives across the city. Out of 96 samples of liquid milk collected from different companies, 93 were found substandard, contaminated with different chemicals including lead, thus creating serious concern among the people, and the authorities concerned as well.
BFSA Chairman, Mohammad Mahfuzul Hoque, on Tuesday said, as the incumbent government has adopted a zero tolerance policy on food adulteration, such illegal as well as immoral practices cannot continue. “We are asking the companies to remove their substandard food products from the market within three to four days. Otherwise, stern legal action will be taken against them,” he told the media.
Based on a report by the BSTI, the HC on Sunday ordered that 52 'substandard' products of 18 companies be immediately withdrawn from shop shelves and destroyed. The Bangladesh Food Safety Authority and the Directorate of National Consumers' Right Protection were given 10 days to execute the order.
On Tuesday, while visiting the capital's different wholesale and retail markets including Karwan Bazar, Malibagh, Fakirapul and Rampura kitchen markets, this correspondent found that the sales of those substandard products were continuing unabated at different grocery shops.
The grocers said that they were not sure about what to do under the circumstances. They said, they did not stop selling those products as they had not got the HC copy in their hands. Meanwhile, some of the shopkeepers said, the companies who manufacture those products are liable to withdraw those from the market. “As of now, the companies are giving their products to us like before and buyers are buying those products without knowing whether they are substandard or not,” they said.
The 52 'substandard' products identified by the BSTI include the ground turmeric and Lachchha vermicelli of one of the most popular consumer brands, Pran. The list also includes the ground turmeric produced by the Danish, Fresh and Sun brands as well as ACI’s Pure coriander powder. Teer brand's mustard oil was also found in stores at Karwan Bazar, Hamidul Islam, a shopkeeper, said that retailers are not considering violating the court order to further their businesses. But they want to have a 'clearer understanding' of the problems with Teer's mustard oil before removing it from their stores.
Aside City Group's Teer mustard oil, the sales of Rupchanda of Bangladesh Edible Oil, Pusti of Shabnam Vegetable Oil, GB of Green Blessings Oil are prohibited by the court order. Shafiqul Islam, director general of the Directorate of Consumers' Right Protection, could not be reached for comment. BFSA Chairman Mahfuzul Hoque earlier on Monday told the media that they want to see the BSTI's research report before launching a drive.
"We must receive the BSTI lab report before we can take measures against the 52 products. We cannot take action until we go through the report because the penalties against the brands will depend on the degree of product adulteration. Therefore, we need to ascertain the type of adulteration from the report."
Describing their position on the matter, Mahfuzul said that the penalties vary on the type of violation by the product manufacturer.
"If the products contain any life-threatening ingredients, there is one type of penalty. On the other hand, if the quality is lowered by a lack of necessary components, the punishment is of a different nature. Therefore, the food safety regulator's chief highlighted the barrier to taking the same action against the products by putting them in one bracket.
Earlier on May 9, the High Court asked an official of BSTI and BFSA each to appear before it on Sunday to explain their stance on the issue. According to media reports published on May 3-4, BSTI recently collected 406 food samples of 27 types. According to BSTI report, on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan, samples of 406 products were collected from the local market and tested at BSTI laboratory.
BSTI published results of 313 products, and among them, samples from 52 manufacturers were found to be substandard and adulterated. The 52 substandard food products include Teer Mustard Oil of City Oil Mill; GB Mustard Oil of Green Blessings Vegetables Oil Industries Limited; Pusti Mustard Oil of Shabnam Vegetables Oil Industries Limited; Rupchanda Mustard Oil of Bangladesh Edible Oil Limited; Sun Chips of Kashem Food Products Limited; Ara Drinking Water of Arra Food and Beverage Limited; Al Safi Drinking Water; Mizan Drinking Water of Shahari and Brothers; Morn Dew Drinking Water of Morn Dew, Pure Drinking Water and Duncan Natural Mineral Water of Duncan Products Limited.
Besides, RR View Drinking Water of RR View Purified Drinking Water; Dighee Drinking Water of Dighee Drinking Water; Pran Lachchha Seemai (vermicelli) of Pran Agro Limited; Dudli Noodles of New Zealand Dairy Products BD Limited; Testy, Tani, Taskia Soft Drink Powder of Shanta Products; Priya Soft Drink Powder of Jahangir Food Products; Danish turmeric powder of Danish Food Limited and Pran turmeric powder of Pran Agro Limited have also been asked to be removed from the market.
Apart from these food products, the HC also asked the authorities concerned to remove Fresh turmeric powder of Tanvir Food Limited; ACI Pure coriander powder of ACI Food Limited; Pran Curry Powder of Pran Agro Limited; Danish Curry Powder of Danish Food Limited; Banolata Ghee of Banolata Sweets and Bakery; Pure Hathazari chili powder of SS Consumer Products; Mistimela Lachchha Seemai (vermicelli) of Mistimela Food Products; Madhuban Lachchha Seemai of Madhuban Bread and Biscuits Industries Private Limited;
Mithai Lachchha Seemai of Mithai Sweets and Bakery; Well Food Lachchha Seemai of Well Food and Beverage Company; ACI Iodide Salt of ACI Salt Limited; Mollah Salt of Mollah Salt Industries; King flour of KR Food Industries Limited; Rupsha Fermented Milk (Dai) of Rupsha Food Products; Makka Chanachur of Tayeba Food Products; Mehedi Biscuit of Imtiaz Bread and Food Products;
Baghabari Special Ghee of Baghabari Special Ghee Company; Suji of M/S Nishita Foods; Lachchha vermicelli of M/S Madhuban and Products; turmeric powder of M/S Manzil Food and Products; Madhumoti salt of Madhumoti Salt Industries; Sun turmeric powder of Sun Food; Greenlane honey of Greenlane Milk Product, Kiran Lachchha vermicelli of M/S Kiran Products;
Dolphin chili powder and Dolphin turmeric powder of M/S Abbas Ali MudiDokan; Surya chili powder of M/S Rakib Store; Jedda Lachchha Seemai of M/S Jedda Food Industries; Amrita Lachchha Seemai of M/S Amrita Food Products; Dada Supar salt of M/S New Jhalakathi Salt Mills; Tin Teer salt of M/S Quality Salt Industries; Madina, Star Ship Salt of M/S Lucky Salt Industries; Taj Iodide Salt of M/S Taj Salt Industries and Nur Special Iodide Salt of M/S Nur Salt Industries.