Poisons in Food

Wholesale adulteration of a variety of food items including vegetables is not an unknown phenomenon to millions of consumers across the country. A sizeable portion of them is also aware of the fact that adulteration of food causes serious hazards to health. Despite knowledge of danger the helpless consumers are forced to swallow adulterated food in the absence of any alternative. In fact this has become the order of the day at present.


A Bengali daily in its issue of November 1 has reported that with the beginning of the holy month of Ramzan, the adulteration of food items, as usual, took an alarming turn. An automobile lubricant under the brand name Mobil is being used to prepare Jilapi, a kind of popular sweetmeat largely consumed during Ramzan. Vech, an animal feed imported from abroad, is powdered to produce beshan for making delicious peazu, beguni, potato chop, etc. for those who are fasting. Beshan is derived from different kinds of pulses and grams. Vech is much cheaper than pulses and hence the adulterators find it more profitable to use this in making food items. An organised gang of adulterators are active in the metropolis and elsewhere in the country and carrying out their business with impunity

So far the Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) has formed two separate committees to check adulteration. The committee members will collect samples from open market and send those to laboratories for test to determine the nature as well as the extent of adulteration. On the basis of test reports cases will be filed against those responsible for adulteration. The DCC has so far collected 700 samples during the last 10 months of the current year and 432 cases have been filed on the basis of tests.

In addition, about 650 shops or establishments have been prosecuted on charge of selling unhygienic, stale and rotten food during this period. The DCC has only 18 members of the staff on its payroll to find out adulterated food, drink and edible oil in the city. Existing laws to deal with adulteration are outdated and, therefore, ineffective. As per law, a person found guilty of adulteration can be fined up to Tk 200 or awarded three months' jail term. As a result the unscrupulous traders find it easier to get released, if at all prosecuted on charge of adulteration, after paying Tk 200 (3 US Dollars) which is nothing compared to profit earned through the business. This law is quite inadequate to control the menace

There was a move taken earlier to make the anti-adulteration law up to date and more effective, but nothing tangible has taken place as yet. The concerned authorities must pay heed to it.
(Source: The Indepemdent, November 3, 2003)

Hazardous substances detected in food items from Bangladesh
3 EU member countries seize 11 consignments

Three developed nations belonging to the European Union (EU) have recently seized eleven food consignments, mostly frozen shrimp, exported by nine Bangladeshi companies for gross violation of health rules. Delivery of 10 frozen foods and one pickle were seized in Italy, Belgium and the United Kingdom under the 15-member EUís well-known "Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF).

The consignments of the sea food items were seized on charges of having proscribed substance such as nitro furan, salmonella and mercury droplets while agro-based product, pickle was seized for adding colour, all elements are supposed to be detrimental to human health. The frozen food exporters against which allegations were slapped include Khulna-based E-Mart (BD) Ltd, Usha Fish, Bionic Fish, Bionic Sea Food, Prionic Fish, Fresh Food, Asian Sea Food, National Fish and Meenhar Fisheries.

Of 11 consignments, 10 were of frozen shrimp while the rest is of pickle, sources said. The five shipments of frozen shrimp contained nitrofuran(metabolic), nitrofurazone (SEM), four Salmonelle and one mercury droplets while colour was added to pickle.

The consignment of pickle headed for the UK was pickle under the brand name of "Pran brand naga chilli pickle extra hot", manufactured and exported by local enterprise Agricultural Marketing Co Ltd, a sister concern of Pran group.The Birmingham-based importer Azka Impex seized the shipment of prickle on charges of mingling colour with the food item (The Independent, 18. 12. 03).

One can see that strictly controlled export articles are dangerously contaminated, can one imagine how much poison is added to uncontolled food items openly sold in Bangladesh?

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