Govt to set up watchdog to oversee quality of food items

http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.info/search_index.php?page=detail_news&news_id=49240

Govt to set up watchdog to oversee quality of food items

FE Report

The government will establish a regulatory body to oversee the quality of consumer foods items, said Food and Health Adviser AMM Shawkat Ali Monday.

The adviser unveiled the government’s plan at a press conference in the city on the day, adding a high powered committee comprising senior officials of the relevant ministries will be formed soon to ensure quality of food items until establishment of the body.

“The high-powered committee will also be empowered to take action against those who produce adulterated consumer foods,” he said.

Mr. Ali said a technical committee will also be formed to extend support to the committee in conducting its activities.

He said the government will require two years of time to establish the regulatory body like those in the developed countries.

Apart from this, he said, they have taken measure to enhance capacity of all government laboratories.

Replying to a question, the adviser said the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) had already conducted laboratory tests on 32 products including Cadbury chocolates.

“The reports of the tests are yet to be available,” Mr Ali added.

Besides, testing milk and milk-made foods, he said, the BSTI will conduct laboratory tests on juice items available in the market to ensure their quality.

Replying to a question, he said the government has asked its agencies to strengthen inspection of bulk powered milk at every stage of import.

Replying to another question, he said the government considering taking initiative to make the Advertisement Act-1984 time-befitting so that local and foreign companies cannot cheat the consumers by dishing out false information about their products.

bdnews24.com adds: A high-level committee would be formed in the meantime, said Shawkat. A top-level official of the health ministry will lead the committee with members from the ministries of commerce and industry, among others.

Asked about the eight banned brands of milk powder still available in the market despite a High Court (HC) order, he said: “The government has not received the court order copy in hand yet.”

“It is not possible to take any measures in this regard until we get the copy,” he said.

“However the government has started to run mobile courts to stop the sale of the banned products after the news was published in the media,” he said.

The health ministry was also campaigning to spread the message to parents that there was no alternative to breast milk, Shawkat Ali said.

“The government has limitations. We do not have an adequate system of mobile courts compared to the huge number of retail shops.”

“The products might be sold due to lack of manpower. But the government is taking rigorous measures on the matter,” the adviser said.

The HC directed the government on October 23 to take quick measures in banning the display and sale of eight foreign powder milk brands.

The government has already halted the registration procedure of Chinese brands tainted with melamine, Yashli-1, Yashli-2 and Sweet Baby.

It has also asked deputy commissioners and civil sergeants to take legal actions to seize unregistered milk powders from the market.

A taskforce with sufficient members was also formed under the commerce ministry as per the demand of the health ministry, the adviser said.

Powdered milk samples were sent to Bangkok for further tests that would be completed in three to four days, he said.

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