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Thursday, November 22, 2012
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Stop, now

HC asks govt to halt import, sale of harmful chemical treated food

The High Court yesterday directed the government to immediately stop import, distribution and sale of fruits, groceries and other food items treated with formalin, carbide or any poisonous chemicals.

Responding to a writ petition, it also ordered the authorities concerned to supply all sea and land ports and the markets under the city corporations with testing kits within a month so that any food item can be checked before they are allowed into the country or sold.

Meanwhile, the commerce minister told parliament that existing laws having provisions for punishment up to death penalty or life imprisonment could prevent food adulteration if those were enforced.

The city corporations would be obliged to examine the food items people bring to them to check the purity, the court said, adding the authorities would also have to distribute testing devices in other markets of the country in phases.

The court asked the secretary to the information ministry to take steps in 15 days to raise mass awareness through media campaigns about the hazardous effects of consuming adulterated foods.

The government authorities in the HC rule were asked to comply with the orders and submit a report by January 7 next year.

Besides, the HC sought an explanation as to why import, distribution and sale of food items treated with harmful chemicals should not be declared illegal.

M Helal Uddin, a director of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, filed the petition on Monday, seeking HC directives on the government to stop the unlawful deeds.

Unscrupulous traders at wholesale and kitchen markets prefer to add harmful chemicals like formalin to food items for preservation and use carbide for ripening fruits, Helal said in the petition, adding consumption of such foods inflicts serious harm on human body.

AM Amin Uddin and Iqbal Kabir Lytton appeared for the petitioner, while Deputy Attorney General Al Amin Sarker represented the government.


Commerce Minister GM Quader yesterday said the departments concerned could prevent food adulteration through actions in line with the existing laws that already provide for stern punishment, including death penalty.

Replying to lawmakers' queries, he told parliament that there was no need for a fresh law in this regard.

Under the Special Powers Act 1974, a person shall be sentenced to death, or imprisonment for life, or rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend up to 14 years, and shall also be liable to a fine for adulteration of, or sale of adulterated food, drink, drugs or cosmetics, added the minister.

The Pure Food Ordinance 1959 has also provisions for stern punishment for such offences, he said.

Under the Consumer Rights Protection Act 2009, Quader said, a person might be jailed for three years and fined Tk 2 lakh for selling adulterated food.

The national consumers' rights protection directorate has been operating countrywide drives against food adulteration, he said, adding such drives would be intensified further.

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Let us give a life without poison as we're in prison by some money hungry dishonest businesspersons. Sincere thanks and gratitude to our Apex Court for giving such life saving directives.

: Sengupta, Canada

Sincere efforts were always absent to deal with and arrest food adulteration over the years and lately ballooned! I started thinking it was rocket science.

: Syed Imtiaz Ali


  • Saleh Tanveer
    Thursday, November 22, 2012 04:18 AM GMT+06:00 (169 weeks ago)

    Most chemicals have multiple uses--I wonder if the judges were aware of it. Banning some of these chemicals export all together can have serious unintended consequences.

  • N. Alamgir
    Thursday, November 22, 2012 06:30 AM GMT+06:00 (169 weeks ago)

    HC please arrange to execute the orders that you pass! Without execution orders are like dead rats. Ask the Parliament to pass a bill demanding death sentence for adulteration and poisoning of food and drugs. Please do this good!

  • Mahboob Hossain
    Thursday, November 22, 2012 09:16 AM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    Thanks to the judges of High Court for such a wonderful move. I hope the government will respond positively to the direction of High Court to stop the silent genocide through food adulteration.

  • Minu
    Thursday, November 22, 2012 09:55 AM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    Kasab has been hanged for killing may be 3/4 hundred people. But what about our own people who are responsible for ingestion of poisonous food and consequently sending us to death row in millions.

  • Shekhar Dev, Chittagong
    Thursday, November 22, 2012 10:05 AM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    Really a good initiative has taken by High Court. Harmful chemical confine our life and deteriorating our mass health. We have to formulate some rules and regulation as our businessmen will not use such poison in food. Besides people have to aware of such pollution. Government should convey this order earnestly for the health of nation.

  • Vampire knight
    Thursday, November 22, 2012 01:13 PM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    We are thankful to the Apex Court for the order; but, why the govt has to be instructed by the court on important issues for doing their job?

  • Hasan Mamun
    Thursday, November 22, 2012 02:04 PM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    Laws are sleeping in the page of our constitutions. Few years ago smoking was banned in public places and fine was also fixed for the law breakers. Even the police was ordered to punish the open smokers. But what we see now ,the law enforcers are smoking openly denying the law and their duty. the concerned authority always impose the law to be obeyed but they never look into the matter weather the it is practiced or not. That is why we see every where in Bangladesh people are breaking laws causing a grave damage to the nation. Hope , same thing is not going to happen in the case of food adulteration.

  • Reaz Hassan
    Thursday, November 22, 2012 12:41 AM GMT+06:00 (169 weeks ago)

    To pass orders and execution of the directives are two different things. Do we have the requisite trained manpower to handle the thousands of varieties of commodities that we import? With all the good intentions, excellent ideas, it is bound to falter. More important perhaps is to cut down drastically the import of dangerous chemicals that pollute the food supply chain.





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