Anti-adulteration drives to go on
The government will continue with the month-long special anti-adulteration drives across the country as a section of unscrupulous traders do brisk business by selling substandard food during the month of Ramadan.
“The drives are already underway to prevent sales of adulterated food and will continue throughout the month,” Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu told a press conference at his office in the capital yesterday.
“We've to create panic among dishonest businessmen so that they don't dare selling adulterated food items,” he said.
Officials from Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) and Dhaka district administration will carry out drives against food adulteration every day. They have been monitoring adulteration of widely consumed items like puffed rice, dates, bananas, mangoes, soft drink, fruit juice, edible oil, mustard oil, ghee, vermicelli and drinking water in Dhaka, the minister added.
Mobile courts will also continue conducting anti-adulteration drives outside Dhaka, including Keraniganj, Savar, Ashulia and Dhamrai.
As part of the ministry's efforts to prevent adulteration of food, samples of 183 items have been tested in BSTI laboratories ahead of Ramadan, Amu said.
“Of the tested items, many failed to meet the BSTI standards. We've sent legal notices to the companies and sellers as their items failed the BSTI tests.”
Some surveillance teams of the industries ministry have also been tasked with ensuring sale of pure drinking water during the fasting month as a section of dishonest traders do brisk business by selling substandard bottled water illegally, the minister said.
Recently, BSTI tests didn't find presence of formalin in 68 samples of dates, mangoes, litchis, blood oranges (maltas), apples and grapes.
“However, the findings of the tests don't mean that fruits are not treated with formalin. The scale of use of formalin might have dropped a bit due to different government and private initiatives,” said the minister.
The BSTI, mobile courts and surveillance teams so far have fined some companies and traders Tk 4.73 crore in the current fiscal year.
“The amount is too low. The teams should have fined the food adulterators much higher to discourage them,” Amu observed.
He said 796 mobile courts were conducted during the July 2015-May 2016 period. The courts filed 1,164 cases while another similar number of lawsuits were settled.
As many as 658 surveillance teams conducted drives and filed 665 cases against food adulterators, the minister added.