MANY of the banned food items ordered to have been withdrawn 12 days ago from the market for being harmful to health are still sold at shops, menacing public health. The Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution on Saturday seized a large quantity of banned iodised salt, clarified butter, cumin and coriander powders from five markets in the city’s north. This brings to the fore a poor control the Food Safety Authority has over the market infested with companies that hardly care about compliance with the law. Although most supermarkets and big outlets have stopped selling the products, the supplies to medium and small shops has remained uninterrupted. On Saturday, the inspection team seized 47 boxes of banned clarified butter, 90 packets of cumin and coriander powder, and 74 kilograms of iodised salt. The unpalatable happenings lend credence to the fact that the agencies responsible for food safety are not serious about complying with the court directive.
In laboratory tests, the standards institution found that many brands of iodised salt were highly alkaline and dirty. The tests also found that cumin, coriander and turmeric powders lacked required fineness or contained excessive moisture. Samples of clarified butter and butter oil have failed five or more test parameters and the report said that it was difficult to determine if the ingredient used in manufacturing these products was milk fat. The standards institution in May banned another 52 food items for not complying with the standards and the agency ordered withdrawal of the products from the market on instructions from the High Court Division. But none of the 47 companies manufacturing the products followed the order and continued to sell them. What is disconcerting is that neither the standards institution nor the Food Safety Authority has ever published any report on the recall operation of the 52 products. The court on May 23 issued a contempt rule against the Food Safety Authority chair asking him to explain by June 16 why he would not be punished for contempt of the court for not complying with its May 12 order to remove and destroy the substandard products and take action against the manufacturers. As the Food Safety Authority chair apologised for his failure, the court discharged him from the contempt of court charge on the condition that he would never flout court orders and continue with drives against substandard food products.
The Food Safety Authority and other agencies, therefore, have no other options but to comply with the court directives by enforcing food laws stringently to ensure safe food and by driving the banned food products out of the market soon.
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