46% food products in market adulterated

Around 80-99% of other popular items in the market including ghee, juice, honey, Roshogollah, Chomchom, Sandesh, candy, soybean oil and powder milk were also found to be adulterated

   Photo- Dhaka Tribune Infograph

Findings from laboratory tests have shown that over 46% of the food items that are available in the market are adulterated, and all the samples of some of the most popular items were found to be contaminated with harmful chemicals.

The tests, which were carried out over the last two years at the Public Health Laboratory (PHL) in the Institute of Public Health (IPH), show that 100% of the samples of food products like chocolate, cake, Chhana, yogurt, pickles, dried fish, fruit syrup, sesame oil and vegetable oil (dalda) were adulterated.

Around 80-99% of other popular items in the market including ghee, juice, honey, Roshogollah, Chomchom, Sandesh, candy, soybean oil and powder milk were also found to be adulterated.

IPH Deputy Director Dr Md Shafiqul Alam, also the head of the PHL of National Food Safety Laboratory, told the Dhaka Tribune that they had tested 10,289 samples of 92 different food items over the past two years, and had found that more than 46% of the samples were adulterated.

The food samples were sent to the laboratory by district and upazila sanitary inspectors, Shafiqul said, adding that the findings were passed onto civil surgeons’ offices.

The Dhaka Tribune has acquired a copy of the food testing results from 2012 and 2013 that were carried out by the PHL.

A total of 5,322 and 4,967 food samples were tested in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Of the samples tested, 2,588 and 2,137 samples were found to be adulterated in the consecutive years.

Large percentages of samples from other popular food items that were found to be adulterated include mustard oil, biscuit, powdered chilli, powdered turmeric, salt, palm oil, milk, powder milk, and jelly.

On the other hand, the samples from different products including anchor pulse, green gram (mung pulse), fenugreek (methi) and black pepper (gol morich) did not contain any trace of adulteration.

There are allegations that sanitary inspectors send only a limited number of samples for testing as they get bribes from food manufacturers.

When asked about what actions had been taken against the perpetrators, IPH Director Subimal Sinha Choudhury told the Dhaka Tribune that the institute has no legal power to take actions against the manufacturers of adulterated food. Its only duty is to submit the laboratory test results before the civil surgeon concerned, he added.

When also questioned about the same issue, Abul Kalam Azad, additional director general (planning) and director of management information system of the Health Directorate, said they did not have any record of punitive actions that had been taken against those involved in food adulteration.

Health sector sources said the government had passed the food act and once the rules are finalised they will go for drastic punitive actions against those involved with the adulterated food business.

Health specialists say millions of Bangladeshis are being affected by food poisoning every year, and yet people are unaware of it. Although there has been no nationwide research on food adulteration and its affect on health, food adulteration is a leading cause behind the increase in non-communicable diseases like diabetes, cancer, stroke, hypertension, and heart and kidney-related ailments, they added.



Source: Dhaka Tribune