Bangladesh Food Safety Authority has decided to have milk powder of 15 brands tested in at least two internationally-recognised laboratories abroad, its chairman Mohammad Mahfuzul Hoque said yesterday.
The decision came in a meeting at the BFSA office in the city with the representatives of the companies that import and market milk powder.
Early last month, the BFSA had milk powder of 15 local and foreign brands tested in three laboratories of Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR), the Atomic Energy Centre and the Institute of Public Health (IPH).
The laboratory tests found excessive level of lead in products of six local brands that import milk powder in bulk quantities and repack those locally.
Scientists say if children consume excessive level of lead, they may become stunted. This can even result in growth failure, learning difficulties and also behavioural problems.
The permissible level of lead in milk powder is 0.02 milligram a kilogram. But the milk products of six of the seven local brands contained lead between 0.2 and 0.3 milligram (10 to 16 times the permissible level). The eight other brands of milk powder contained lead within permissible level, BFSA officials said.
Following that, the BFSA on January 25 asked the customs authorities in Bangladesh to ensure that all milk powder importers stock products in their own warehouses and have those tested at the three designated laboratories before marketing the products.
However, the brands made objections, saying they want the tests conducted at the internationally-recognised laboratories abroad, said Mahfuzul Hoque.
“So, we decided that the milk powder will be tested in the three designated laboratories as well as in two internationally recognised laboratories outside the country,” he told The Daily Star.
The meeting, chaired by Mahfuzul Hoque, formed a nine-member committee comprised of three members of the BFSA, three scientists of the three designated labs and three representatives of the milk powder companies.
The committee headed by BFSA Member Mahbub Kabir would select the foreign labs for tests of the milk powder, he said.