After the Malibagh kitchen market, traders in the capital yesterday declared Shantinagar Bazar as the second formalin-free market of the country.
The declaration was made at a programme to launch an FBCCI project titled “Formalin and poisonous carbide-free ideal market”.
Commerce Minister Ghulam Muhammed Quader inaugurated the formalin-free market at Shantinagar by handing over a sophisticated formalin detector machine to Aminbagh Cooperative Market Society Ltd, the market's supervisory body.
The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) will monitor the project's progress. It has trained three staff of the cooperative society to operate the Tk 1.35 lakh machine smoothly.
The move comes at a time when food adulteration is taking place in a rampant manner throughout the country, raising concerns of the people about its impact on health.
Many fish sellers use formalin for preservation of tissues. It makes the fish stiff and makes them look fresh for longer periods than usual. From vegetables, milk, drinks, sweetmeats, ice cream to spices, almost everything is adulterated these days. There is almost no one who can avoid the grave health hazards resulting from such adulteration.
Earlier on September 19, traders in the capital declared Malibagh kitchen market as formalin-free.
“From now on, no trader will be allowed to sell fish, fruits and vegetables in the market without checking them with the machine,” said Mohammad Imam Hossain, general secretary of the market management committee.
FBCCI Director Helal Uddin said the businessmen's body had a plan to declare Dhaka a formalin-free city within the next two months.
“We have around 30 big kitchen markets in the city. We will supply similar machines to those markets with the help of banks and other private organisations,” said Helal, who is the key initiator of the formalin-free ideal market project.
Lauding the role of the FBCCI in making kitchen markets formalin-free, Commerce Minister Quader said, “The FBCCI has taken a very good initiative. The government will provide all-out support in this regard."
The government has planned to control formalin import in order to stop its misuse and keep foodstuff, including fish, free of formalin in an effort to protect public health, he added.
“We shall give permission for importing formalin on a case-to-case basis only,” said Quader. “Only those who get permission from the commerce ministry will be able to import formalin.”
The minister said the government would ask importers to come up with reports mentioning how much formalin they had imported and where it would be used.
He also said the government had decided to enact a law to ensure punishment of formalin suppliers for using formalin in foodstuff and fish.
FBCCI President AK Azad stressed the need for exemplary punishment of those indulging in formalin misuse.
“Mixing poison with foodstuff is a bigger crime than extortion. The formalin importers [those who are misusing it] will have to be tried in a special court under the speedy trial tribunal,” he said.
Rashed Khan Menon, chief of parliamentary standing committee on the education ministry, said the government was planning to establish a regulatory body titled “Food and Drug Authority” similar to the US Food and Drug Administration to protect public health.
He mentioned that the BSTI was apparently unable to contain the misuse of formalin.