The High Court’s comments on Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution’s (BSTI) statement about unlicensed dairy farms and companies seem very logical, given that the organisation has been trying to shirk its responsibilities. In a recent statement to the HC, it has said that it does not have any responsibility to look into the unlicensed companies that are producing and supplying pasteurised milk and curd across the country. Such a response from BSTI, a major agency responsible for ensuring safe food for people, is unfortunate.
Several recent studies have found the raw cow milk, pasteurised milk and curd in the market to be contaminated with harmful elements. The National Food Safety Laboratory (NFSL) in a recent study has found excessive levels of lead, pesticides, antibiotics and bacteria in raw cow milk, regular consumption of which may pose threats to human health. The study also found high levels of chromium in the fodder. In 2018, an ICDDR,B study also found high levels of bacteria and other harmful elements in 77 percent of pasteurised milk samples. Recently, Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) submitted a test report to the HC in which it was said that harmful elements were found in most of the 190 samples of raw and packed liquid milk, curd, and also fodder.
Amid such a situation, all the organisations concerned should work in concert to ensure that the dairy companies ensure end-to-end compliance and products supplied by them is safe for consumption. While the department of agriculture extension as well as the ministry of livestock and fisheries should play their due role, the BSTI should also play its part. Since it is empowered by law to take action against the companies and dairy farms that do not have licenses, it should do so without any hesitation.