The High Court yesterday asked two high officials from the Bangladesh Standard Testing Institution (BSTI) and the Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) to appear before it on Sunday to give explanation about 52 food products found to be “substandard” by the BSTI.
The HC ordered Deputy Attorney General Mokhlesur Rahman to communicate with the two officials -- one from the BSTI and the other from the BFSA -- to ensure their presence in court that day. The officials cannot be below the rank of deputy director, the HC said.
The bench of Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif and Justice Razik-Al-Jalil passed the order while hearing a writ petition filed seeking its directive on the government to seize or withdraw the 52 “substandard” food items from markets all over the country.
The bench also said it would pass an order on the petition on receiving statements from the BSTI and the BFSA in this regard.
During the hearing, the HC said the BSTI only issued show-cause notices on the companies although it (BSTI) found their products to be substandard.
All the substandard products should have been seized from the market, the court observed, asking to know why the food standards are checked only during Ramadan.
Barrister Shihab Uddin Khan argued for the writ petitioner.
Earlier in the day, Conscious Consumers Society, a rights organisation, filed the petition with the HC seeking its directive on the authorities concerned of the government for taking steps to seize or withdraw the 52 food products from the market.
The rights organisation in the petition also requested the HC to pass an order upon the authorities so that they stop production of the items by the companies until the standards improve.
Conscious Consumers Society (CCS) filed the petition as it did not get any reply to a legal notice served on the authorities concerned on May 6. In the notice, CCS had asked them to seize or withdraw the substandard food products from markets within 24 hours.
The items include mustard oil, drinking water, vermicelli, turmeric, chili and curry powder, salt, ghee, flour, noodles, and biscuits.
Barrister Shihab Uddin Khan sent the legal notice on behalf of CCS saying that BSTI has reportedly found 18 substandard food items and directed 47 food manufacturers to give reasons for violation of the relevant standard.
He also requested to take legal action against companies producing the substandard items within 24 hours.
The 52 substandard food products include Teer Sarishar (Mustard) Tel (Oil) of City Oil Mill (Konapara, Gazipur); GB Sarishar Tel of Green Blessings Vegetables Oil Industries Limited (Rupganj, Narayanganj); Pusti Mustard Oil of Shabnam Vegetables Oil Industries Limited (Rupganj, Narayanganj); Rupchanda Mustard Oil of Bangladesh Edible Oil Limited (Rupganj, Narayanganj); Sun Chips of Kashem Food Products Limited (Konapara, Gazipur); Ara Drinking Water of Arra Food and Beverage Limited (Uttara, Dhaka); Al Safi Drinking Water of Al Safi Drinking Water (Chiriakhana Road, Mirpur, Dhaka); Mizan Drinking Water of Shahari and Brothers (15/3-1, Purba Rampura, Dhaka); Morn Dew Drinking Water of Morn Dew Pure Drinking Water (Section 11, Mirpur, Dhaka); Duncan Natural Mineral Water of Duncan Products Limited (20, Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue, Dhaka); RR View Drinking Water of RR View Purified Drinking Water (151/1, Purba Sheorapara, Kafrul, Dhaka); Dighee Drinking Water of Dighee Drinking Water (Topkhana Road, Dhaka); Pran Lachchha Seemai (vermicelli) of Pran Agro Limited (Sapura, Rajshahi); Dudli Noodles of New Zealand Dairy Products BD Limited (Rupganj, Narayanganj); Testy, Tani, Taskia Soft Drink Powder of Shanta Products (Keraniganj, Dhaka); Priya Soft Drink Powder of Jahangir Food Products (Kamrangirchar, Dhaka); Danish Holuder Gura of Danish Food Limited (Kanchpur, Narayanganj); Pran Holuder Gura of Pran Agro Limited (Natore); Fresh Holuder Gura of Tanvir Food Limited (Megnaghat, Sonargaon, Narayanganj); ACI Pure Dhaniar Gura of ACI Food Limited (Sirajganj); Pran Curry Powder of Pran Agro Limited (Natore); Danish Curry Powder of Danish Food Limited (Kanchpur, Narayanganj); Banolata Ghee of Banolata Sweets and Bakery (Mirpur, Dhaka); Pure Hathazari Maricher Gura of SS Consumer Products (Chattogram); Mistimela Lachchha Seemai of Mistimela Food Products (Firingibazar, Chattogram); Madhuban Lachchha Seemai of Madhuban Bread and Biscuits Industries Private Limited (Panchlaish, Chattogram); Mithai Lachchha Seemai of Mithai Sweets and Bakery (Jalalbad, Chattogram); Oil Food Lachchha Seemai of Oil Food and Beverage Company (Aturardepo, Sholoshohor, Chattogram); ACI Aydinjukta Laban of ACI Salt Limited (Rupganj, Narayanganj); Mollah Solt Aydinjukta Laban of Mollah Salt Industries (Char Syedpur, Narayanganj); King Maida of KR Food Industries Limited (Sitakunda, Chattogram); Rupsha Fermented Milk (Dai) of Rupsha Food Products (Eidgah, Chattogram); Makka Chanachur of Tayeba Food Products (Sadar, B-Baria); Mehedi Biscuit of Imtiaz Bread and Food Products (399, Asodganj Chattogram); Baghabari Special Ghee of Baghabari Special Ghee Company (380/B, Dakkhin Goran, Dhaka); Suji of M/S Nishita Foods (BSCIC Shilpanagari, Khadimnagar, Sylhet); Lachchha Seemai of M/S Madhuban and Products (BSCIC Shilpanagari, Gotatikar, Sylhet); Holuder Gura of M/S Manzil Food and Products (BSCIC Shilpanagari, Gotatikar, Sylhet); Madhumoti Aydinjukta Laban of Madhumoti Salt Industries (Phultala, Khulna); Sun Holuder Gura of Sun Food (Kushtia); Greenlane Madhu of Greenlane Milk Product (Daulatpur, Khulna), Kiran Lachchha Seemai of M/S Kiran Products (Naogaon); Dolphin Maricher Gura and Dolphin Holuder Gura of M/S Abbas Ali Mudi Dokan (Saheb Bazar, Rajshahi); Surya Maricher Gura of M/S Rakib Store (Saheb Bazar, Rajshahi); Jedda Lachchha Seemai of M/S Jedda Food Industries (Katpatti, Sadar, Jhalakathi); Amrita Lachchha Seemai of M/S Amrita Food Products (Amritanagar, Pangsha, Babuganj, Barishal); Dada Supar Aydinjukta Laban of M/S New Jhalakathi Salt Mills (Araddarpara, Sadar, Jhalakathi); Tin Teer Aydinjukta Laban of M/S Quality Salt Industries (Fariapatti, Sadar, Jhalakathi); Madina, Star Ship Aydinjukta Laban of M/S Lucky Salt Industries (4, Manoharpatti, Sadar, Jhalakathi); Taj Aydinjukta Laban of M/S Taj Salt Industries (Station Road, Sadar, Jhalakathi) and Nur Special Aydinjukta Laban of M/S Nur Salt Industries (Faniapatti, Sadar, Jhalakathi), according to the writ petition.
A recent BSTI report, signed by SM Ishaq Ali, director, (CM), said samples of the 52 products “failed” against BSTI parameters.
The Daily Star on May 2 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 the 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.
Kamruzzaman Kamal, marketing director of Pran-RFL Group, yesterday said they have been selling the products -- vermicelli and turmeric power -- after getting the approval of the BSTI.
“After the news came to the media last week, we have tested these two products in our own and external laboratories and we did not find anything beyond the acceptable limit,” he said.
“We have requested the BSTI to review its decision,” Kamal said referring to a letter of Pran.