Samples of most of the 52 food items, which were previously found to be substandard by the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution, have passed a retest by the quality regulator, says a counsel for the BSTI.
The report, which was prepared by the BSTI based on recent test results, was handed over to the lawyer, barrister Sarkar MR Hassan, yesterday for submitting it to the High Court.
Talking to The Daily Star, Hassan said the report would be filed on June 16. The court had directed the BSTI to complete the retest of the food items by June 13, he said.
Citing the report, Hassan said that his client has reexamined samples of 48 food items as per the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution Act-2018, and it found most of the samples to be standard.
For example, samples of Oil Food Lachchha Seemai of Oil Food and Beverage Company had been found to be substandard in the previous test.
“In the retest, Oil Food Lachchha Seemai has been found to be of standard quality,” he said.
The fresh samples were voluntarily given to the BSTI for retest by the companies concerned following an HC directive, he said, adding the rest four items would be reexamined within a day or two.
The lawyer, however, declined to give details about the food items, which he said have met the quality standards, as it was a “sub-judice matter”.
Talking about the Bangladesh Standard and Testing Institution Act-2018, the BSTI counsel said if any product is found to be substandard, the BSTI issues a notice to the company asking it to stop the production of the item.
However, the company can keep producing the product if it provides the quality regulator with a new sample which would pass a retest, he said.
In May, a BSTI report, signed by engineer SM Ishaq Ali, director, (CM), said samples of the 52 products failed against BSTI parameters.
The substandard items include daily essentials such as salt, turmeric and chilli powder. Certain brands of vermicelli that see high demand during the Ramadan were also among the food products.
Besides, samples of certain brands of mustard oil, bottled drinking water, curry powder, ghee, flour, noodles, crisps and biscuits were also found substandard by the BSTI.
Following a writ petition filed by Supreme Court lawyer Shihab Uddin Khan, the HC on May 12, directed Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) and the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection (DNCRP) to immediately remove the 52 substandard food items from the market and to submit a report to the court on May 23 after complying with the order.
The HC also urged the prime minister to declare a war on food adulteration. “If necessary, the state may declare an emergency for preventing food adulteration,” the HC observed, adding that food adulteration cannot be tolerated and there can be no compromise on this.
During hearing the same petition on May 23, the HC bench of Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif and Justice Razik-Al-Jalil came down heavily on the BFSA for not complying with its May 12 order to get 52 substandard food items off the shelves.
“Bangladesh Food Safety Authority’s activities over removing 52 substandard food items from markets are merely eyewash,” said the HC bench.
The court rebuked the BFSA chairman, summoned him, and issued a contempt of court rule against him for not complying with its order.
It directed the chairman to appear before it on June 16 to explain as to why his office had not complied with its May 12 order. The BFSA chairman cannot go unpunished, the bench said issuing a rule asking him to explain in two weeks as to why contempt of court proceedings should not be brought against him.
The court, however, expressed satisfaction with the compliance report submitted by DNCRP which said it had conducted drives at markets almost all over the country and confiscated substandard and adulterated food items.
It also said if the producers of the 52 food items appealed to the BSTI, the authority should conduct further tests and submit the reports to the court by June 13.