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HC order on 14 cos

Pasteurized milk banned for 5 weeks

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Staff Reporter :
The High Court (HC) on Sunday directed the authorities concerned to stop production, distribution, sale, purchase and consumption of pasteurized milk of 14 companies registered under the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) for the next five weeks owing to presence of antibiotics and lead in the milk, which are harmful for human body.
At the same time, the members of the public have been advised to be vigilant in the purchase and consumption of pasteurized milk.
The HC also asked the government and the 14 milk producing companies to submit a report to the court on August 25 after complying with the order.
The HC also issued a rule asking them to explain as to why the presence of antibiotics and lead in the pasteurized milk should not be declared illegal and unconstitutional.
The HC bench of Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed and Justice Md Iqbal Kabir passed the order and issued the rule after hearing on a writ petition filed by Supreme Court lawyer Tanzir Ahmed seeking necessary order in this regard.
The court heard also four separate laboratory reports prepared by the Institute of Public Health (IPH), ICDDRB, Feed and Food Safety Laboratory under the Institute of Bangladesh Livestock and Research Institute (BLRI) and Bangladesh Council for Scientific and Industrial Research on the pasteurized milk produced by all the 14 companies registered by BSTI.
Those 14 companies, including the state-owned company Milk Vita, were producing and selling pasteurized milk legally with the approval of BSTI.
In view of this order of the High Court, there was no opportunity for the companies to sell pasteurized milk even legally in the country for five weeks.
Fourteen companies are--- Aftab full cream milk of Aftab Milk and Milk Product Limited, Farm Fresh Milk of Akij Food and Beverage Limited, Moo of American Dairy Limited, Milk Vita of Bangladesh Milk Producers Cooperative Union Limited, Dairy Fresh of Baro Awlia Dairy Milk and Foods Limited, Aarong Dairy of Brac Dairy and Food Project, Ayran of Danish Dairy Farm Limited, PURA of Ichhamoti Dairy and Food Products, Igloo of Igloo Dairy Limited, Pran Milk of Pran Dairy Limited, Milk Fresh of Uttar Bango Dairy, Ultra Milk of Shelaidah Dairy, Arwa of Purbo Bangla Dairy Food Industries and Safe Milk of Tania Dairy and Food Products.
On July 14, the same HC bench directed the Bangladesh Standards Testing Institute to test the pasteurized milk produced by all the 14 companies registered by the institution at four laboratories in next seven days after hearing a writ petition.
The laboratories are the Institute of Public Health (IPH), ICDDRB, Feed and Food Safety Laboratory under the Institute of Bangladesh Livestock and Research Institute (BLRI) and Bangladesh Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
The laboratories were asked to test the milk to determine whether there is health hazardous substance like total bacterial count, coliform, staphylococcus, acidity, formalin, detergent and antibiotic in the pasteurized milk.
BSTI was asked to collect the sample of pasteurized milk of the companies from the market in presence of representatives from the four laboratories, the High Court said in the order.
The court also directed the BSTI to submit the action plan about developing its standard to detect detergent and antibiotics in the pasteurized milk to this court within July 23.
Four laboratory reports were submitted in the court on Sunday. Tolerable level of Lead for human body was found in all 14 brands' milk in one lab test and antibiotic was found in all 14 brands' milk in another lab test.
BSTI informed the court that they need time till next January to develop its standard to detect detergent and antibiotics in the pasteurized milk in its own laboratory.
After hearing the parties, the court issued a rule with a five-week ban on pasteurized milk.
About a month ago, Dhaka University researchers found presence of antibiotics meant for humans, lead and detergent, in packaged milk and dairy products of some of the top brands, including Milk Vita, Pran, Aarong, Igloo and Farm Fresh, among others.
The antibiotics that were found in the milk include levofloxacin, ciprofloxacin and azithromycin, which are used mainly to treat bacterial infections in humans.
After the DU researchers published their findings, Kazi Wasi Uddin, Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestocks, threatened them with legal actions if they failed to publish their study in a peer-reviewed journal.
A subsequent second test by the DU researchers, about two weeks ago, of milk samples of the same brands, reconfirmed their findings, said Prof A B M Faroque, immediate past Director of Biomedical Research Centre at DU, who led the research.
Experts say lead in milk may come from cattle feed and contaminated soil, and can affect the liver, kidney and bones in humans.
According to the World Health Organization, any presence of lead, regardless of the level, is considered unsafe for humans bodies as no safe level for the metal has been found.
The HC in February ordered the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to investigate adulteration of milk, curd, and fodder and take legal action against those responsible.
The court had also asked the BFSA to form a probe committee to identify the individuals and businesses involved in adulteration of dairy products and fodder in three months.
Advocate Sarker M R Hasan appeared in the court on behalf of BSTI, Barrister Aneek R Haque represented the writ petitioner and Muhammad Faridul Islam was for Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA).

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