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HC summons BSTI, BFSA officers over writ filed to withdraw 52 products

  • Published at 07:54 pm May 9th, 2019
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File photo of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, which houses the High Court and the Appellate Division Dhaka Tribune

A rights organization filed the writ with the High Court, asking for the products be withdrawn or seized

The High Court has summoned officials from the Bangladesh Standard Testing Institution (BSTI) and Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) to explain why they failed to withdraw or seize 52 products found to be substandard in a BSTI test. 

The High Court bench of Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif and Justice Razik-al-Jalil passed the order after hearing a writ petition filed by rights organization Conscious Consumer Society (CCS), seeking the court’s directive to withdraw 52 food products from the markets, on Thursday. 

The court also expressed its dissatisfaction over BSTI’s failure to take necessary action.

The court also ordered the officers—who cannot occupy positions below that of the deputy director—to appear before it on May 12. 

Barrister Shihab Uddin Khan filed the writ on behalf of the CCS. The organization also sought a High Court bar on the production of the products.

The petitioner filed the writ after the authorities concerned failed to reply to a notice—served by CCS on May 6—asking them to withdraw or seize the substandard products from markets. 

The authorities also failed to take any legal steps against the companies responsible for manufacturing the products.

The petition further said that of the 406 food items from 27 categories tested by BSTI, 52 items were found to be substandard and/or adulterated. 

The CCS also pleaded for the issuing of a rule in this regard.

The Food secretary, secretary to the Ministry of Industries, BSTI director general, chairman and director general of Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection were made respondents to the writ.

The 52 products include: Duncan Natural Drinking Water, ACI Coriander Powder, Danish Turmeric Powder, Pran Turmeric Powder, Pran Curry Powder, Madhuban Lassi Shemai, Baghabari Special Ghee, Mollah Iodine Salt, Rupchanda's Sesame Oil (Bangladesh Edible Oil), Well Food Lassi Shemai, Madina Iodine Salt, Dada Super Iodine Salt, Sun Food Turmeric Powder, Teer Sesame Oil, Pushti Sesame Oil, Fresh Turmeric Powder, Mithai Lassi Shemai, Mizan Drinking Water, and others.

On May 2, the BSTI unveiled a report on the substandard products at a press conference. On the next day, several media outlets published the report and the citizen rights organization sent legal notices to the respondents on May 6. 

The writ filed on Thursday annexed the media reports.

Mahbub Kabir Milon, member (additional secretary) of Bangladesh Food Safety Authority, said safety and standard are different issues, and BSTI published the report as the products were found to be substandard. 

“Now, they will take necessary measures according the law for not ensuring quality,” he added. 

However, BFSA will study the BSTI reports and if any of the products are found to not be safe for human health and in violation of safety measures, it will take necessary action, he added.

Meanwhile, BFSA sent a letter to the BSTI seeking its report on edible oil, Milon added.

Earlier in the day, during a hearing on pasteurized milk, another High Court bench of Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed and Justice Md Iqbal Kabir Lytton expressed dissatisfaction with the BSTI for failing to ensure the quality of the product. 

In a report published on May 16, 2018, scientists at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) said over 75% of all pasteurized milk in the market is unsafe for direct consumption.

Following the report, Supreme Court lawyer Md Tanvir Ahmed filed a writ petition with the High Court, seeking its directives for the government to form an expert committee and submit a report after examining the pasteurized milk available in the market.

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