Formalin in fruits | The Daily Star
12:48 AM, June 12, 2013 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:29 AM, June 12, 2013

Formalin in fruits

Study finds chemical in almost all seasonal fruits at city shops

Formalin in fruitsA study has found excessive formalin in seasonal fruits like mango, litchi and blackberry sold at shops in different areas of the capital. Even shops with signboards reading “chemical-free fruits” sell fruits soaked in formalin.
Save the Environment Movement (SEM) revealed the findings of the study through a press conference at Jatiya Press Club yesterday, after running formalin tests on fruits from shops in 26 areas on June 1-10.
It found that around 94 percent of the mangoes and 100 percent blackberries and litchis are formalin-tainted, thanks to fewer mobile court drives lacking police support this year.
Formalin, a 37 percent water solution of formaldehyde, is poisonous and can cause cancer. Traders use this chemical as a preservative and to make fruits and vegetables look fresh for longer periods.
SEM Secretary Abdus Sobhan said 115 samples of mangoes, litchis and blackberries had been collected from nearly 40 shops.
The organisation has traced 10 shops that display “chemical-free” signboards but sell fruits treated with formalin.
The areas covered in the study are Gulshan-1, Gulshan-2, Sat Masjid Road, Green Road, Fakirapool, Shantinagar Bazar, Dhanmondi, Karwan Bazar, New Market, Lalbagh, Rampura Bazar, Madhya Badda, Gulshan Gudaraghat, Malibagh, Azimpur, Palashi Bazar, Mouchak, Agargaon, Sadarghat, Badamtoli, Gulistan, Jatrabari, Shah Ali Market, Town Hall Market, Jatrabari and Kalabagan.
Also a former additional director general of environment department, Sobhan said formalin had been found in imported apples, grapes and oranges and in vegetables. “But imported malta and local tomatoes contain the most dangerous level of formalin.”
Prof Mahmudur Rahman, director of Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), told The Daily Star that apart from formalin, calcium carbide, textile colours and huge amount of pesticides are being using in fruits especially in litchis.
He said litchi orchard owners use 20 times more pesticide than required. They also use a hormone to make litchis bigger. Both of these are harmful to human health.
"After using pesticide, fruits or vegetable should be sold 15 days apart for safety. But traders sell them immediately."
Mahmudur said 14 children died last year in Dinajpur after eating pesticide contaminated litchi.
There is a long-term effect of the chemicals and pesticides which may cause cancer or other chronic diseases like liver cirrhosis and kidney failure, he added.
Bangladesh Standard Testing Institute (BSTI), which spearheaded mobile court drives last year and worked to create public awareness against the use of formalin in food, this year has conducted fewer drives due to lack of police support, said BSTI Deputy Director Saiful Islam.
Another deputy director, Taher Jamil, said in the last two months, they had conducted six mobile court drives against fruit adulteration and imposed fines of Tk 4.10 lakh and imprisoned seven persons.
The Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection conducted three such drives this month.
Dhaka South City Corporation authorities conducted 86 drives against food adulterators this year. But those drives were mainly focused on restaurants and food shops.
Sheikh Kamal Hossain, executive magistrate of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), said they conducted just one drive in Gulshan area last week and found excessive formalin in litchis and mangoes.
The DNCC claims it could not conduct more drives as it was crippled by a lack of logistics.

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