Letters

Widespread food adulteration: Lawbreakers must be penalised

Dear Editor:
Widespread adulteration and contamination of food items including local and imported fruits of various kind on sale in the market have become a matter of serious concern. Although there is a law titled ‘Consumers Right Act’, nevertheless it is failing to protect consumers’ rights. This refers to the very comprehensive article by Mr. A M K Chowdhury (Lead, pesticides in milk Contaminants in foods—Offenders must be punished; The Holiday dated 15 February 2019).
People of this country continue to suffer due to the inaction of the law enforcers, even if there is a law or order from the authority or the court. It may be mentioned as an instance that the law enforcers have been taking very little action against the traders adulterating food items or mixing toxic chemicals endangering people’s health. According to a practising general physician, consuming the chemically-treated fruits might cause kindney failure and may also affect brain. In the long term, consumption of such fruits might cause cancer.
This is the second time that the High Court has issued directives to a number of authorities to eliminate fruit chemicals. It is matter of great satisfaction as well as pride for the citizens of the country that the High Court has on many occasions taken stand in favour of major issues of public interest when the adminstration was unwilling or unable to protect the interest of the people. It is time that the wrongdoers are punished.
Bacteria was present in 66-80 percent samples of local and imported packed milk, while around 30 percent packed milk had antibiotic tetracycline above MRL.“Besides, 60 to 80 percent local packed milk fails to meet the microbial safety parameters,” said the NFSL chief.Despite significant progress in the public health sector, food-borne diseases remain a major health concern in Bangladesh, experts say. They have suggested continuous quality assessment of milk and milk products, which can easily be contaminated, to prevent those diseases.
“Regular consumption of milk contaminated with pesticide residues may cause pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, leukaemia, skin sensitisation, allergic reaction and rash,” said Mohidus Samad Khan, associate professor at Buet’s chemical engineering department.He also said excessive use of antibiotics like enrofloxacin and cyprosin in cattle feeds may cause antibiotic resistance, which reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of antibiotics on bacterial infection and diseases. “Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security and development today. Heavy metals in milk or any edible items may cause a wide range of health effects including cancer.”
The Codex Alimentarius, or “Food Code” is a collection of standards, guidelines and codes of practice adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. The Commission, also known as CAC, is the central part of the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme and was established by FAO and WHO to protect consumer health and promote fair practices in food trade. It held its first meeting in 1963. The CODEX ALIMENTARIUS international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice contribute to the safety, quality and fairness of this international food trade. Consumers can trust the safety and quality of the food products they buy and importers can trust that the food they ordered will be in accordance with their specifications.
Public concerns about food safety issues often place Codex at the centre of global debates. Veterinary drugs, pesticides, food additives and contaminants are some of the issues discussed in Codex meetings. Codex standards are based on sound science provided by independent international risk assessment bodies or ad-hoc consultations organized by FAO and WHO.
In the absence of stringent enforcement of the law, the consumers are held hostage by a section of profit mongers, wholesalers, middlemen and retailers who are responsible for infectivity. This trend has to be stopped. strict actions should be taken against those who sellcontaminated fruits and food items.
Nuzhat Hasnain
New Eskaton, Dhaka

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *