Food safety chief exempted from contempt charge after apology
Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) Chairman Mahfuzul Haque was exempted from contempt of court rule after he offered unconditional apology before the High Court for not complying with its order.
The HC bench of Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif and Justice Razik Al-Jalil passed the exemption order when he appeared before the court and offered apology for not complying with the HC’s May 12 order.
The High Court (HC) on May 12 directed the authorities concerned to immediately remove from the market 52 food products which are found substandard by Bangladesh Standard Testing Institution (BSTI).
On May 23, the HC rebuked the BFSA chairman, summoned him, and issued the contempt of court rule against him for not complying with its order to get 52 sub-standard food items off the shelves.
During the hearing, the BFSA chairman was asked to conduct drives against food adulteration throughout the year with the help of other concerned agencies.
The court also ordered Directorate of National Consumers Rights Protection to launch in two months a round- the-clock hotline so that the consumers communicate with it for filing their complaints on food adulteration.
THERE IS ALLEGATION OF MONEY-EXCHANGE, HC OBSERVES
While passing the order, the HC bench gave observation that there is an allegation of money exchange before testing of any food item.
“If we find any proof of anybody’s involvement in exchanging money, we will send him or her directly to jail instead of sending the person to the Anti-Corruption Commission,” the court told the lawyer for Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) during hearing a writ petition on the issue.
HC’s MAY 12 ORDER
The court asked the authorities concerned to stop production, selling or marketing of these substandard products and to take appropriate legal action against the persons responsible for producing, selling, marketing and supplying the products.
The BSTI, the BFSA and the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection have been asked to take necessary measures to this effect.
The substandard items include daily essentials such as salt, turmeric and chilli powder. Certain brands of vermicelli that see high demand during the Ramadan are also among the food products.
Besides, samples of certain brands of mustard oil, bottled drinking water, curry powder, ghee, flour, noodles, crisps and biscuits were also found substandard by the BSTI.
BSTI officials, however, have said most of the products are substandard, but not adulterated. And except for a few, those are not harmful to humans.
The BSTI recently collected 406 samples of food items from the market from across the country and tested those at its laboratory. As of May 2, it got results of 313 samples, 52 of which were found substandard.
The 52 samples were of 46 firms that include several leading food processors, including ACI Ltd, Molla Salt (Triple Refined) Industry Ltd, Pran-RFL Group, Meghna Group of Industries, City Group, Bangladesh Edible Oil Ltd, Danish Food Limited and Well Food and Beverage Company.