The Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) has found 18 food items substandard for human consumption and directed the 47 food processors to give reasons for violation of relevant standards.
The food items include mustard oil, drinking water, vermicelli, turmeric, chilli and curry powder, salt, ghee, flour, noodles, crisps, and biscuits.
The names of the manufacturers, which include many household ones, were released at a press briefing at the industries ministry yesterday.
“We will strengthen our drive so that dishonest traders refrain from making and marketing substandard food and drinks during the month of Ramadan,” said Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun at the briefing.
The BSTI has been conducting mobile court drive and surveillance activities throughout the year and it will carry out three mobile courts daily in Dhaka city to curb the sales of substandard food products during the Muslim holy month. The violations by food processors were detected after the BSTI collected 406 samples of 27 food items from markets from across the country and tested the samples in its laboratory.
Of the samples, it got results for 313, 52 of which were found to be substandard.
The BSTI asked the firms to present their side of the story by May 9, said its Director for Certification Marks SM Ishaque Ali.
Four brands of mustard oil were found to be below the BSTI’s quality parameters. These are: Teer, a brand of leading commodity processor City Group’s City Oil Mill; GB of Green Blessings Vegetables Oil; Pushti of Shabnam Vegetables Oil Industries of TK Group; and Rupchanda of Bangladesh Edible Oil.
Some 12 brands of spices, mostly turmeric powder, were detected risky for human consumption by the BSTI.
The substandard turmeric powders are of: Danish of Danish Food; Pran of Pran Agro, one of the biggest food processors in the country; Fresh of Meghna Group of Industries’ concern Tanvir Food; Sun of Sun Food; and Manzil Food and Products.
The BSTI found coriander powder of ACI Food as well as curry powder of Pran Agro and Danish Foods substandard. Chilli powder brand of ‘Pure Hathazari’ of SS Consumer Products failed in the lab test.
In its lab test, the BSTI found vermicelli of Pran Agro, Mistimela Food Products, Modhuban Bread and Biscuits, Mithai Sweets and Bakery, Well Food and Beverage, Madhuful, among others substandard.
The BSTI also found that iodised salt of seven salt processors below its acceptable standards.
The processors are ACI Salt, Molla Salt, and five salt processors from Jhalakathi: New Jhalakathi Salt, Quality Salt Mills, Lucky Salt Industries, Taj Salt Industries and Nur Salt.
It detected drinking water brands Ara of Arra Food and Beverage, Al Safi of Al Safi Drinking Water, Mizan of Sahari and Brothers, Morn Dew of Morn Dew Sure Drinking Water, Duncan of Duncan Production, RR View of RR View Purified Drinking and Dighi of Dighi Drinking Water risky for drinking because of violation of standards.
In addition, the BSTI found non-compliance with its standards in Sun brand of chips of Quasem Food Products, Doodle brand noodles of New Zealand Dairy Products, soft drink powders of Shanta Food Products and Zahangir Food Products, ghee of Banalata Sweets and Bakery, fermented milk of Rupsha Food Products, biscuit of Imtiyaz Bread and Food Products, semolina flour of Nishita Foods and honey of Greenlane Milk products.
BSTI officials said some of the food items are risky for human consumption because of the presence of health hazardous heavy metal lead and acidity.
The Daily Star talked to three leading companies on the BSTI’s test results and all of them denied the allegations.
“We procure turmeric from farmers, wash and clean it before making powder. What can we do if the lead comes from the soil?” said Mostafa Kamal, chairman of Meghna Group of Industries.
Syed Alamgir, managing director of consumer brand of ACI, said the company maintains ‘high standards’ in its products. “We will need to reply to BSTI’s queries,” he added.
Biswajit Saha, director of corporate and regulatory affairs of City Group, said City’s mustard oil is hundred percent okay.
“We process oil in line with the BSTI standards and the BSTI has given us licence,” he said.