The High Court Division on Monday directed the government and the Bangladesh Food Safety Authority to collect samples of cow milk, curd and cattle feed sold across the country and find out whether or not they were adulterated.
A bench of Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice KM Hafizul Alam directed the BFSA and the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution to submit reports with the findings within 15 days.
The bench directed the Anti-Corruption Commission to inquire into the allegation that adulterated cow milk, curd and cattle feed were sold across the country and take action against those involved with the serious malpractices.
The court issued the suo moto directive after seeing reports published by newspapers Monday.
According to the reports the Institute of Public Health detected the presence of salmonella, Escherichia coli, aflatoxin and residues of deadly pesticides like endosulfan and chemicals like chromium and lead in samples of cow milk, curd and cattle feed tested between August and December in 2018.
On Sunday, the laboratory technical head Shahnila Ferdousi had presented the findings at a discussion at the institute on the occasion of the laboratory’s getting ISO certification.
She said that 190 samples , 96 of cow milk collected from dairy firms, 31 imported and locally produced milk, 30 feed samples and 33 curd samples were tested at the IPH labs.
The samples were collected from 18 places in six upazilas in the districts of Dhaka, Gazipur and Narayanganj.
Presence of Escherichia Coli bacteria was found in 96 per cent of the milk samples.
She said that Salmonella bacteria were also found in one of the samples.
The bench also directed Institute of Public Health’s laboratory technical head Shahnila Ferdousi to submit the report within 15 days.
The bench in a ruling also asked the government, the Bangladesh Safety Food Authority and the BSTI to explain in four weeks why production and marketing of the adulterated cow milk, curd and cattle feed by shops, depart stores and in the open market would not be declared as ‘illegal’.
The respondents were also asked to explain why they would not be directed to prosecute the perpetrators under Section 25C of the Special Powers Act 1974.
The court asked Bangladesh Food Safety Authority, the Central Food Safety Management Coordination Committee, the government and the BSTI to explain why their failure and inaction in ensuring food safety to consumers would not be declared as illegal.
The court directed the respondents to explain why they would not be directed to form a committee to identify the persons involved in adulterating the cow milk, curd and cattle feed and why they would not be directed to submit regular monitoring report every three-month.
The respondents were also asked to explain why they would not be directed to post the reports in the website of the Bangladesh Safety Food Authority to keep the public informed about the quality of these products and also for action by the ministries of food, agriculture, fisheries and livestock as well as health and home.
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