Nishat Tasnim Shuchi: Food adulteration in Bangladesh has reached at an alarming stage over the last few years. Basic food items on the market like fish, fruits, oils, vegetables, and sweetmeats are adulterated with hazardous chemicals in an indiscriminate manner. Poisonous residues in food items are leaving worst impacts on people causing cancer, and damaging vital human organs like liver, kidney, and heart along with affecting children's mental and physical growth.
Experts say, food adulteration has been happening on a massive scale for the past half a decade due to increased investment, expanded market, and high consumer demand. Greed for fast super profit and moral degradation among food traders have led to today's alarming situation.
The number of patients suffering from cancer, diabetes, and kidney diseases is on the rise due to food adulteration. Chemicals used to preserve foodstuffs and the pesticides used in agriculture are making foods poisonous. Though the average age of the people of Bangladesh is increasing, they are getting infected by various deceases. Not only in foodstuffs, the life saving medicines are also being adulterated.
In a recent test conducted by Institute Of Public Health Bangladesh, adulteration has been found in all 43 consumer goods. The rate of the adulteration is 40 percent and nearly 100 percent adulteration found on 13 items among the 43 consumer goods tested.
Coloring agents chrome, tartzine, yellow and sudan red colors and erythrosine are used in spices, sauces, juices, lentils, oils which cause cancer, allergy, and respiratory problem. Formalin and carbide used in fish, fruit, meat and milk also cause cancer and liver damage. Besides, rye flour used in barley, bread and wheat flour, urea used in puffed rice and rice, Sulfuric acid used in milk, Oleomargarine or lard and DDT applied in dried fish cast long-term effects like nervous system disorder, depression, asthma, cardiac system, liver and kidney damage etc.
Besides, burnt engine oil is used to fry Jilapi, while artificial fragrance is applied on flowers. Application of excessive and unauthorised pesticides also causes contamination of food. Additives used for making food items attractive can be lethal if those are cancerous. Food grains, vegetables, and fish also get contaminated by industrial pollution of the soil, air, and water.
According to the World Health Organization and Food & Agriculture Organization, nearly 45 lakh people in Bangladesh are being infected with various diseases every year. In a recent research of Ministry of Health, food adulteration has been marked as one of the main reasons for the rise of cancer, liver and kidney diseases.
Various organizations are working in creating awareness against food adulteration and protecting the rights of consumers. Among them, state-run Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection and non-profit organizations like 'Fresh Food for All' (FFA), Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB) are working to ensure food safety.
The government has formulated various laws to curb food adulteration. Among them- Consumer Rights Protection Act, Food Safety Act, Formalin Control Act with a provision of life-term imprisonment as the maximum punishment are most notable. The government also revoked licences of 20 pharmaceutical companies for producing adulterated and low-quality medicine.
However, food and medicine adulteration is going on a wide scale across the country. Law along can't never erase the curse from the society. For this, awareness of people from all walks of life is must. Both the sellers and the buyers should realize the seriousness of adulterations. The dishonest traders must understand that their children are not also safe from adulterated foods. They can also be the victims of food adulteration which the traders are doing for earning some extra money.
Though adulterated foods are dangerous for all, the impact of food adulteration falls most on children and aged people. Children are losing their disease resistance power for adulterated foods. They are losing their mental ability along with the damage of kidneys, livers and other organs.
The impact of food adulteration will be grave for the next generation. Adulterated food and the use of chemicals on foodstuffs are destroying our future generation. The children will be less intelligent and will lack good memory. People will frequently have to go to hospital. Their medical expenses will increase day by day which will cast a serious impact on the socio-economic conditions. So the entire nation is in a terrible risk due to food adulteration.
The government must be stricter in this regard. Stern action should be taken against the violators of food safety laws. At the same time, we all should be aware against the serious impacts of food adulteration. Otherwise we will get an ill, unhealthy and paralyzed future generation. So, it's time for us to stand up and raise our voices against food adulteration.
About the writer: Nishat Tasnim Shuchi is a guest writer at risingbd.com.
risingbd/DHAKA/Feb 9, 2017/Shuchi/Augustin Sujan