Vol. 4 Num 36 Wed. July 02, 2003  
Star City

Adulterated food abounds

Health inspectors found 67 per cent of dairy and oil products adulterated in a laboratory analysis on 137 samples at the Dhaka City Corporation (DCC).

The DCC Public Health Food Laboratory collected the samples from different markets in Dhaka this May and came up with the findings proving that a slew of food items consumed every day are adulterated.

Going a month back in April, 89.36 per cent of the food items were found adulterated in tests on 47 samples, said Golam Sarwar, chief chemist of the Public Health Food Laboratory.

"The quality of dalda (a fat-rich product) is not up to the mark at all. The melting point of dalda is 50 degrees Celsius. By contrast, a human body cannot process food that needs more than 37 degrees Celsius to melt," Sarwar pointed out to prove the effect of some adulterated products on human health.

"If someone asks me about dalda, I must say it should be banned immediately. dalda is being widely used in the foods like biriani, moglai parata, polao, chicken roast and others served in restaurants. It takes a heavy toll on human health," said another DCC health department official who preferred not to be named.

In April and May, 51 samples were collected from sweet shops and all but two tested adulterated. "We cannot carry out every necessary test on sweets due to lack of equipment. What we do is test moisturiser and fat in the sweets, but both ingredients were substandard," said the chief chemist.

Sauce and jam-jelly items, especially the local ones, fall far short of standards. "Most local sauces have failed to pass the soluble solid test.

Only Modern Food Processing Limited, producing sauces, can pass the standard mark set by the BSTI (Bangladesh Standard Testing Institution), said Sarwar.

Chief Health Officer Mohammed Ashraf Uddin told The Daily Star, "Our inspectors have filed cases against the unscrupulous people who violated the food standards."

The department has so far filed more than 1,000 cases against the dishonest persons and organisations, he said.

In most cases, these people can get away, paying only Tk 200 in fines -- the anti-adulteration measure prescribed in the Municipality Ordinance of 1969.

"The government should go for more stringent punishment, as days have changed," said a DCC health department official.

Meanwhile, the department held a meeting on adulterated food items and remedies recently, where the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) was present.

The DCC in association with the CAB, the commerce ministry and representatives of print and electronic media will form inspection teams, according a decision of the meeting. The groups will launch anti-adulteration drives and prescribe punishment.

DCC health inspectors found 67 per cent of dairy and oil products adulterated in a recent test. Photo: Syed Zakir Hossain