Need for a renewed anti-adulteration drive
Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed, Former Deputy General and Commandant, Ansar VDP Academy: In our country we often find dishonest traders who always want to cheat people and adopt unfair means. As disbelievers in any ethical principles, they are only inclined to dodge their customers and consumers. With such a malign intention in mind, they do not procure quality products; they import inputs with defects and assemble showing them fascinating externally.
Again, there are people who produce and procure things in a bad manner. They knowingly ignore the rules of storage and maintenance. They have the required know-how, but having wrong principles they avoid preserving things in a balanced and perfect manner. As a result, products do not only lose their quality but their life cycle shorten and finally they get ruined and are declared useless and non serviceable.
As our people are not aware of their consumer rights, dishonest fellows always take chances to continue their fraudulent activities.
This is not applicable to food items only, but to all items like drinks, cosmetics and clothings etc. Food is the fundamental right to all the citizens of the world. Safe food is a part and parcel of food security and it must be ensured. Public health has been threatened nowadays for the use and application of chemicals in drugs, baby food, vegetable and in other protein food-stuffs like fish, meat, milk etc. Though the awareness program is on from both the print and electronic media, dishonest people do not pay any heed to it. Moreover, it is assumed that the successive governments are not so serious about it. State agencies and its mechanism seem to be casual. At times, the markets come under operation from different agencies but it is not enough. These occasional drives are considered as eyewash in most of the people’s mind as their effectiveness always comes under question. The government must be more vigilant and dynamic in this respect.
It is amazing to know that out of the 21680 food items experimented during 2010 to 2013 period, 50% of the total tested commodities were found adulterated. Research findings show that food safety laws are not well-implemented. There are many reasons for which such adulteration of food takes place. Firstly, there are powerful syndicates behind these activities. Though the state enjoys the supreme authority it is not clear who has given those syndicate to make people hostages to their hands.
Research and survey from an NGO shows that, local government, health department and BSTI are under-staffed to monitor the relevant places in the market. At present, following the organogram, 319 Pourasava and 11 city corporations are supposed to be managed by 370 sanitary inspectors, but there exist only 78 inspectors. Again, as per the organogram of health directorate, 566 sanitary inspectors are employed. But in consideration of their work volume by no way it is sufficient. On the other hand, there are only 38 inspectors are on duty against 68 approved posts in BSTI. The deficiency of manpower in such positions at the field levels is creating big challenges to monitor food adulteration.
Moreover, there are unfair and dishonest activities from sanitary and BSTI officers which is another great problem. These are being done both by the government monitoring sides and the traders. This is undoubtedly a ominous signal for the different parties involved like consumers, sellers and market monitoring authorities. As per pure food ordinance 1959, every district and city is entitled to ensure food security by code but it is not done. Even the high court verdict of 2009 is not being implemented in this regard.
In our country, though the government has good intention, but due to the shortage of required manpower, budget, transport and logistics facilities, lack of adequate training, problems of sample procurement and its maintenance etc. are the major causes for which our officials fail to discharge their duties with responsibility. In fact, a comprehensive action plan should be developed by the government to check the food adulteration in the society. Otherwise, our future generation will suffer from malnutrition and would lose all the vitalities of life. The authorities concerned must be more active and vigilant and campaign should not be confined to a particular month like Ramadan. It should be on for all the time.