A Dhaka court dealing with food related cases on Sunday ordered police to arrest the managing director of the country’s leading consumer food company Pran Agro Limited for producing substandard turmeric powder.
The court of special metropolitan magistrate Mehedi Pavel Sweet passed the order after rejecting a time prayer made on behalf of the Pran Group chief Ahsan Khan Chowdhury by his lawyers.
The court expressed its disappointment at the defence’s submission seeking more time for their client to appear before it saying that what the lawyers had said was apparently not true.
The defence lawyers had told the court that their client was very ill suffering from blood infection and fever and submitted medical certificates in support of their claim.
The court was apparently irritated by the statement saying that it had specific information about the Pran chief visiting Nagar Bhaban, housing Dhaka South City Corporation where the food court is also situated, almost regularly.
‘Can you explain how he could manage to come to Nagar Bhaban in ill health?’ the court asked the defence lawyers.
The defence lawyers were apparently caught off guard by the response of the court and immediately retracted the ill health plea saying that they only believed their client.
The court fixed July 30 for hearing the case again.
According to the case statement, turmeric powder produced by Pran left excessive ash when burnt during tests at the laboratory of Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution.
The BSTI permits 7.30 per cent ash in turmeric powder which was found to be 8.09 per cent in Pran turmeric powder.
Analysts at BSTI told New Age that presence of excessive ash in turmeric powder meant presence of foreign object other than turmeric in the powder. They said that it could happen because of not washing the raw turmeric supplies properly and sending it for grinding with earth or dirt clinging to it.
Chances were there that the product could carry contaminants and be very harmful to health, they said.
Pran is also on trial at the same court in connection with two other cases for producing laccha semai and curry powder that were unfit for consumption by BSTI.
Bangladesh Food Safety Authorities sued Pran and 46 other companies for producing 52 unsafe food items last month.
On June 19, the BFSA sued 21 more companies for manufacturing uneatable foods. Their trial is about to begin.
This is however not the first time the country’s leading food processor Pran faced legal action for activities harming consumers.
In October last year Pran was accused of cheating people through deceptive advertisements for marketing its popular olive pickle.
In the case statement the BFSA said that Pran used false and misleading information in the advertisement, like consumption of the pickle helps shed weight, strengthen bones, contains cancer resistant ingredients, and above all ensure good health.