Researchers have also found edible oil, spice powders, ghee and fruit juice of several brands to be substandard
A latest study has found antibiotics, detergent and coliform and other forms of hazardous bacterial organisms in the pasteurized milk products of five popular brands currently sold in the capital’s kitchen markets.
The study, conducted by a group of teachers of Dhaka University’s Faculty of Pharmacy, has also found edible oil, spice powders, fruit juice and ghee of several popular brands substandard — against the standard levels of the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI).
The tests on all seven samples of pasteurized milk and three samples of non-pasteurized milk were conducted at DU’s Biomedical Research Centre and the labs at the Faculty of Pharmacy recently, said Prof ABM Faroque, Pharmaceutical Technology Department teacher and the centre’s director, on Tuesday.
Presences of the health hazardous elements were found in seven pasteurized milk products of Pran, Milk Vita, Igloo, Aarong, and Farm Fresh. Three of them were of Igloo — pasteurized milk, chocolate milk and mango milk.
The samples of non-pasteurized milk were collected from the city’s Palashi, Gabtoli and Mohammadpur kitchen markets.
BSTI, however, on Tuesday submitted a report to High Court in which it said it did not find traces of dangerous elements in 18 pasteurized milk samples of 14 brands — including Pran, Aarong, Milk Vita and Farm Fresh.
Unveiling their findings at a press briefing, Prof Faroque said that presence of antibiotics used to treat humans in pasteurized milk was very alarming.
Levofloxacin and ciprofloxacin were found in pasteurized milk samples of all seven samples. Azithromycin was also found in six samples, according to the study.
All three antibiotics are generally used to treat bacteria and bacterial infections.
“We often say that antibiotics are not working after taking them. They don’t because they are already in our bodies,” Prof Faroque added.
However, the lead researcher said that their findings were based on the samples of pasteurized and non-pasteurized milk they had collected. “But that does not mean all the products of these companies are same.”
Detergent was found in three of the seven pasteurized samples and one of the three non-pasteurized samples. Formalin was also found in one of the non-pasteurized samples.
In all pasteurized samples, the study found fat and non-fat substances below the BSTI standard levels and total bacteria count over the expected level.
Regarding the DU teachers’ study, BSTI Director Nurul Islam told Dhaka Tribune: “I have not seen it yet. I will not comment on the issue until I see the study.”
Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) member Mahbub Kabir Milon expressed deep concern over the finding of the study.
However, when reached for comments, officials of four of the five companies on Tuesday insisted that their products are safe, citing the BSTI report submitted in court earlier in the day.
Pran-RFL Director (marketing) Kamruzzaman Kamal said they collect milks from their own sources and all of their milk products were safe for consumption.
“The milk we produce is 100% safe and anyone can consume it without worrying,” he stressed.
Mohammad Anisur Rahman, director of Brac Dairy and Food Enterprise, which produces Aarong milk, in a written statement said they sent their samples to BFSA and BSTI for regularly testing. “No discrepancies have been found in our products in the tests over the past year.”
Talking to Dhaka Tribune, Milk Vita spokesperson Mozahedul Islam Mehdi said: “We have our milk product tested by BSTI, and they have not found anything harmful in them.”
Md Azam Bin Tareq, spokesperson for Farm Fresh milk and head of operation and brand marketing of Akij Food and Beverage Limited, asserted that there was nothing wrong with their milk product.
The substandard products
During Tuesday’s press briefing held at Pharmacy Faculty’s Lecture Theatre, Prof ABM Faroque also said that samples of edible oil, spice powders, fruit juice and ghee of different brands have failed their tests conducted in line with the BSTI standards.
Cyclamate, a banned artificial sweetener which the study called “very harmful,” was found in all 11 fruit drinks. Coliform organisms were also found in three of them.
The study found metals contents such as iron and copper over the expected level in soybean oil of six out of eight brands.
Sesame oil was found in ghee of eight brands in violation of BSTI standards. They also contained liquid components and iodine over the expected levels.
Two chilli powder samples out of eight brands contained liquid components and all of them Acid Insoluble Ash over the expected levels.
Six turmeric powder samples out of eight brands also contained liquid components over the expected levels. The study also found textile colours in several of them, but the researchers said further testing was necessary for sound results.
Palm oil of 10 brands and mustard oil of eight brands were found to be substandard.
Faroque said that such adulterated food products were mostly affecting three groups of people — children, pregnant women and foetus, and the elderly.