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Dhaka Tribune

TIB: Government officials take bribe to approve adulterated food

Update : 20 Mar 2014, 10:20 PM

The Transparency International Bangladesh has said the government officials are heavily involved in taking bribes ranging from Tk500 to Tk10,000 from stakeholders in exchange for giving approval to adulterated foods.

The Bangladesh chapter of the Berlin-based NGO said this at a press conference titled “Ensuring Safe Food: Challenge of Good Governance and Solution” in the city’s Mohakhali yesterday.

According to the report, sanitary inspectors of the Health Department take Tk200-Tk400 as bribe from retailers during inspection and Tk500-Tk 1000 every month from owners of bakeries and restaurants.

Also field officers of Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) take Tk5000-Tk10000 as bribe while inspecting small and medium food factories.

Officials of customs houses take Tk500-Tk1500 for sample testing of imported foods and issue approval certificates.

Executive Director of the TIB Iftekharuzzaman said: “We demand for formation of a safe food authority to reduce food adulteration. The culprits must be brought to book.”

“Food adulteration with poisonous chemicals has reached a dangerous proportion posing serious health hazards in the country. It is one of the major sectors of Bangladesh and 100% people are the victims of food adulteration,” he said.

“We will create a policy document and will sent it to the government soon.” Creating awareness among people is not enough rather the authorities have to act honestly, he maintained.

The report reveals that there is lack of manpower in the departments responsible for ensuring safe food. Only 78 sanitary inspectors among a total of 370 are working under 319 municipalities and 11 city corporations.

Also, 30 posts of the BSTI field officers under districts and divisional levels have remained vacant for a long time.

Around 4,500,000 people got affected in various diseases for adulterated food. The reason behind the problem is mentioned as limitation of current act and laws, lack of their implementation, absence of proper monitoring and lack of accountability.

The report also blames lack of communication between department officials concerned. The TIB also points out that such a single organisation in not good enough to ensure safe food.

It says there is only one food court under Dhaka North City Corporation, which is not enough at all.

TIB Chairperson Sultana Kamal said: “The government is playing reluctant role in this case. We saw news of adulteration in different media against PRAN and BDFOOD. But the food produced by those companies is still being sold to markets.”

“The number of cases against the culprits is very low. People don’t have any idea who to put forward their complaints. Besides, people involved in food adulteration have money. So when anyone files a case it becomes difficult to fight against them,” she added.

About the report on wastage of money in quorum crisis during the ninth parliament Iftekharuzzaman said: “We can’t do any work without the permission of the government. The report is not unconstitutional. If anyone challenges us in this regard then it’s against the rule.”

“We are registered organisation of the government. Not a single money comes without the approval of government. Our audit report is open and any government officials can check it.” 

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