Amid the ongoing government drives against adulteration and substandard quality of food items, a group of Dhaka University researchers on Tuesday disclosed findings of a study they just carried out, revealing adulteration in all the samples of milk and milk products, edible oil and spices they tested.
The samples included all the popular-brand ghee, fruit drinks, pepper powder, turmeric power, palm oil, mustard oil, soya bean oil, and pasteurised and unpasteurised milk.
They also detected existence of antibiotics in the samples of pasteurised milk produced by all the seven popular brands and discovered banned carcinogens also in the popular-brand fruit juices.
The DU Biochemical Research Centre and the Pharmacy Faculty jointly conducted the study using random samples of the available brand and unbranded products between August 2018 and February 2019, said research centre director Professor ABM Faroque.
Faroque, also the leader of the nine-member research team, said that they tested the samples as per the BSTI standards.
‘The samples we have tested were substandard. But, it does not mean that all the products of those brands are substandard and harmful for health as we randomly collected the samples from the market,’ he said.
He said that the objective of the study was to make the public aware of what they consumed from the market.
Pharmacy faculty dean Abdur Rahman was present at the dissemination event as the chief guest. Research team members Firoz Ahmed and Raihan Sarker were also present.
Meanwhile, in a separate study, the Institute of Public Health has found bacteria and lead in 96 raw cow milk samples, 31 samples of cow milk in poly bags, 30 curd samples in plastic containers and 30 fodder samples collected from the capital, Narayanganj, Gazipur, Savar, Ashulia and Keraniganj.
Of the 31 companies marketing contaminated milk in poly bags, 11 have BSTI licences, according to the IPH report.
Based on the IPH report, a High Court Division bench on June 23 directed the BSTI to submit by July 15 the list of companies and individuals illegally marketing cow milk and curd in poly bags across the country.
The DU research team has found adulteration in all the eight samples of ghee they have tested while the moisture contents in the samples were higher than the BSTI ceiling of five per cent.
They have also found existence of sesame oil in the samples of ghee produced by Baghabari, Pran, Milk Vita, Milkman, Samir and in two unbranded samples collected from the market.
The iodine value has also been found higher than the BSTI standard of 26 to 35 units in the samples.
‘All these parameters indicate adulteration in ghee and the situation has been the same for a decade since a massive drive against food adulteration was carried out during the military-backed government in 2007,’ Faroque told New Age.
They have found existence of banned artificial sweetening chemical ‘cyclamate’ in the fruit drink samples of 11 brands named Starship Mango Fruit Drink, Sezane Mango Drink, Pran Frooto, Pran Junior Mango Fruit Drink, Orangi, Little Frutika Mango Fruit Drink, Sundrop, Chaba Red Apple, Sunvital Nectar De Mango, Lotte Sweetened Apple Drink and Tropicana Twister.
‘Cyclamate is a carcinogen and is also harmful for kidney, urethra and heart,’ Faroque said.
Without mentioning the names, he said that the researchers found coliform bacteria in the samples of three products.
‘The existence of coliform bacteria in the items indicates that they have been produced in unhygienic conditions or were adulterated with unhygienic substances,’ he said, adding, ‘It is found in faeces and might cause diarrhoea, food poisoning and typhoid.’
They have found presence of acid-insoluble ash higher than the permissible limit of 1.25 per cent in six branded and two unbranded samples of pepper powder, which included the brands Arco, BD, Danish, Fresh, Pran and Radhuni.
‘The parameter is not that harmful but it indicates adulteration,’ Faroque said.
They also found existence of the toxic textile colour called Metanil Yellow in most of the samples of turmeric power produced by the above-mentioned brands.
‘We will disclose the detailed study findings after a thorough scrutiny,’ Faroque said.
The research team has found adulteration in the samples of palm oil produced by Meizan and several other unbranded companies.
The mustard oil manufactured by Rupchanda, Radhuni, Teer, Fresh, Pushti, Shuresh, Danish and Boshudha have been found to be adulterated as the moisture contents in the samples they have tested were found higher than the BSTI limit of 0.25 per cent.
Other adulteration indicators such as the saponification value, the peroxide value and the relative density value in many of these samples do not meet the standard, researchers disclosed.
Examining the similar indicators, they have found adulterated the soya bean oil produced by eight top brands named Rupchanda, Fresh, Pushti, Teer, ACI Pure, Viola, Muskan and Meizan.
They have also detected presence of copper higher than the permissible limit of 0.1ppm in all the samples of soya bean oil of these brands.
‘The intake of copper for a prolonged period will have adverse impact on the blood cells,’ Faroque said.
‘More alarmingly,’ he went on, ‘We have found presence of antibiotics – levofloxacin, ciprofloxacin and azithromycin – in the pasteurised milk manufactured by Milk Vita, Aarong, Farm Fresh, Pran, Igloo, Igloo Chocolate and Igloo Mango.
‘We assume that antibiotics are entering milk from the feeds of cows. Regular intake of such milk will make human body resistant to the antibiotics found,’ he warned, emphasising that the problem must be addressed immediately.
These seven brands also do not meet the standard set for the total bacteria count of 10 cfi/ml. ‘We have found the total bacteria count in these products to be five-23 times the prescribed rate,’ Faroque said.
The coliform count and staphylococcus parameters in most of the samples have also been found not at the desired levels, he added.
But, the study has found existence of formalin in just one sample of unpasteurised milk out of the seven pasteurised and three unpasteurised milk samples examined.
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