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18th-Mar-2017       
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Food adulteration

Adulteration of food with toxic chemicals and substances has reached an alarming high in Bangladesh, especially in low priced hotels, shops, and restaurants. Carbide in fruits, formalin in fish, textile colours in sweetmeat and bakery items, pesticides in raw vegetables, and so on are used to increase the shelf life of food items and earn higher profits while cheating consumers. These practices pose serious threats to public health. Due to poor health literacy, many people don't know how to handle or store food items correctly. This may cause food poisoning and cholera. If this continues for a long time, vital organs such as the liver and kidney can be damaged, even resulting in cancer. Children are the most vulnerable to these risks.
Even if we grow increasingly aware regarding the risks of food adulteration, we are helpless to stop it. There are laws and regulations to penalise food adulteration, such as the Bangladesh Standard Testing Institute (BSTI) Ordinance of 1985, and the Pure Food Ordinance of 2005. Enforcement of these laws with the highest penalty must be ensured. We also need more effective awareness campaigns regarding consumer rights, as well as promotion of ethical practices among the business community by business leaders, and capacity development of public health labs by training more staff to properly test food items for adulteration on the spot. Hopefully the concerned authority will come forward to take care of these issues as soon as possible.

Zubair Huq
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