Dalliance with danger
THERE is a law—the Bangladesh Pure Food Ordinance 2005—that criminalises use of any ‘poisonous or dangerous chemicals or ingredients like calcium carbide, formalin, pesticides or toxic food colour or flavour in any food including fruit’. Besides, the High Court has also issued verdicts on more occasions than one thus far to stop such malpractices. But, unfortunately, as New Age reported on Sunday, the country is yet to get rid of the menace. According to the report, markets in Barisal are currently flooded with chemically-ripened, especially, summer fruits that include mangoes, litchis, jackfruits, watermelons, etc. Moreover, even the imported fruits like orange and grapes treated with formalin to prevent their rotting are sold round the year.
In fact, chemical treatment of fruits by a section of unscrupulous traders in a bid to make quick bucks has become rampant. What raises more concern is that the government apparently lacks seriousness in stemming the danger which is, perhaps, why it is yet to provide the relevant authorities in different cities, including Barisal, with manpower and logistics necessary for conducting drives against use of harmful chemicals in food and fruits. As the officials at the Barisal City Corporation, local environment directorate and Consumers Association of Bangladesh told New Age, they have ‘no lab or no equipment’ to detect poisonous chemicals in fruits, thus fail to conduct any drive in this regard.
It is true that the government has set up a number of mobile courts against trading chemically-treated food in the capital in recent times. But it cannot be denied that these drives have failed to cause any deterrent effect as they have so far been episodic and the punishment meted out by them is insignificant. It is high time that the government took all-out efforts to rein in the menace.
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