The High Court yesterday directed the Anti-Corruption Commission to enquire about the adulteration of milk, curd and cattle feed and to take legal action against those found responsible.
The court also ordered the authorities concerned of the government to form a probe committee to identify in three months the individuals and businesses involved in adulteration of dairy products and cattle feed.
Issuing a suo moto (voluntary) rule, the court also directed the authorities to form another committee to find whether the adulterated products and cattle feed contained lead, antibiotics, bacteria, pesticides or other elements that are harmful to the human body.
The tests should repeat every six months.
Findings of the tests should be uploaded to the website of the Food Safety Authority (Nirapad Khadya Kartripakkha) and available for the public.
The dairy products and cattle feed are being adulterated by dishonest people and organisations as evidenced by a government report, the HC observed, citing newspaper reports.
Such adulteration will damage human health, it added.
The court asked whether there was any point in having money and property when the peoples' health was damaged.
The dishonest should be brought to book, it said.
The HC then issued a rule asking the respondents, including the chairmen of Food Safety Authority, members of Kendriyo Khadya Nirapatta Byabasthapna Samannay Parishad (Central Food Safety Management Coordination Committee) and chairman of Bangladesh Standard Testing Institute (BSTI) to explain in four weeks why their inaction and failure in preventing adulteration and taking appropriate legal steps against it should not be declared illegal.
The court asked them to show causes why the production, carrying and preserving of the adulterated milk, curd and cattle feed found in shops, departmental stores and open market should not be declared illegal.
The rule asked the respondents to explain why they should not be directed to remove such milk, curd and cattle feed from the aforesaid places and to bring those responsible to book and to prosecute them.
The HC bench of Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice KM Hafizul Alam came up with the order and rule following reports on adulteration published in The Daily Star, the Prothom Alo and the Kaler Kantha yesterday.
According to The Daily Star report, a government study has found in raw cow milk excessive levels of lead, regular consumption of which is harmful to the human health.
Conducted by the National Food Safety Laboratory (NFSL) of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the study also detected high levels of chromium in cow feed.
Besides, it found excessive presence of pesticide, antibiotics and bacteria in raw cow milk.
“Heavy metals found in milk came from cattle feed, while pesticide is present because of its excessive application on grass and other agricultural feed,” Prof Shahnila Ferdousi, head of the NFSL, told The Daily Star.
“This is happening mostly due to the lack of awareness among farmers and feed manufacturers,” she said.
Yesterday, the HC bench asked Prof Shahnila to submit the report before the court in 15 days.
Secretaries to the ministries of cabinet division, food, agriculture, livestock, health and home affairs have also been made respondents to the rule.
Supreme Court lawyers Syed Mamun Mahbub and Hassan MS Azim placed the newspaper reports before HC for necessary orders while Deputy Attorney General AKM Amin Uddin Manik represented the government.