A Dhaka food court on Sunday sent Aftab Milk and Milk Products managing director Abdul Kayum Chowdhury to jail rejecting his bail petition as he produced a forged medical certificate before the court to justify his absence from the court ignoring repeated summonses.
Special metropolitan magistrate Mehedi Pavel Sweet passed the order after Abdul Kayum appeared before the court for the first time and sought bail three days after the court issued a warrant for his arrest in a case filed one year ago on charge of marketing of substandard pasteurised milk contaminated with heavy metal.
Kayum never responded to about a dozen of summonses issued by the court before ordering his arrest, said food safety inspector Mohd Kamrul Hasan, also the complainant.
Kayum appeared before the court on Sunday with a medical certificate stating that doctors advised his complete bed rest from October 6, said Kamrul.
The certificate, signed by a Demra-based private hospital, was issued on October 9, said Kamrul.
Kayum was due to appear before the court on October 8, the day the court issued the warrant.
‘The court was convinced that the medical certificate was forged,’ said Kamrul.
Aftab Milk and Milk Products was one of the 10 companies that were prosecuted by Bangladesh Food Safety Authority under the special order of the High Court. The companies were accused in separate cases on the same day on July 24, 2019.
The cases were filed against these companies on the charge of marketing pasteurised milk contaminated with lead and cadmium. Two of the companies pleaded guilty before the court for marketing substandard pasteurised milk and were fined earlier this year.
The other accused companies are Bangladesh Milk Producers’ Cooperative Union Limited (Milk Vita), Pran Dairy, Aarong Dairy, Akij Food and Beverage Limited, Baro Awlia Dairy Milk and Foods (Dairy Fresh), Ichhamoti Dairy and Food Products (Pura), Igloo Dairy, Shilaidaha Dairy (Ultra Milk), and Tania Dairy and Food Products.
The companies are currently marketing their products though their operation was suspended for five weeks in July following a High Court order.
Though, over the years, researches have revealed that pasteurised milk marketed in the country was harmful for health because of the presence of microbial, chemical, residual and other contaminations, leading dairy companies were never prosecuted until the High Court intervened.
The tests, based on which the cases were filed, were carried out under special High Court order.
The HC ordered the tests after the Institute of Public Health raised the alarm about serious microbial, chemical, residual and other contamination in raw and packaged cow milk, curd and fodder in February last year.
Immediately after IPH revealed its findings based on laboratory tests of 190 samples Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution was quick to reject it and confirmed that pasteurised milk was safe for consumption.
But in 2018, following a similar High Court order, the BFSA found that the cold chain was almost absent in marketing of pasteurised milk, resulting in widespread microbial contamination.
The 2018 HC order came on the heels of an ICDDR,B research revealing in May that more than two-thirds of commercially processed pasteurised milk were unsafe for consumption because of microbial contamination.
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