It is high time that someone with enough authority told the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) to examine food products on a random basis across the country. We are glad that the High Court did exactly that on Sunday following a writ petition filed by Conscious Consumers Society on May 9. Another positive development is that the court also asked the National Directorate of Consumer Rights Protection (DNCRP) to open a hotline in two months to provide emergency services to the consumers. There seems to be some ray of hope for the much needed consumer’s rights in Bangladesh.
We applaud the worthwhile efforts to improve the food safety situation in our country. Although, we are red-faced to know that some BSTI officials are allegedly involved in underhanded dealings while testing food after the ban of 52 substandard items, but the tough order of the court to jail anyone found guilty of such crimes is also heartening.But the question remains as to why BSTI had to be ordered by the court to do its job of testing food items sold in Bangladeshi markets. What prevented BSTI from doing the job without being ordered? Corruption allegations against BSTI can naturally create some niggling doubts in the public mind about the efficacy of its food safety drive. Therefore, its activities must be closely monitored and independent officials may be deputed there for a certain period.
The important issue is to ensure safe, unadulterated and hygienic food for all in the country. Safe and hygienic food keeps illness at bay. For the country to progress at a faster pace, it is necessary to have a healthy population. “Health is Wealth” is universally true for all times. If we are to become a wealthy nation, then we must have a healthy nation.
Maintaining strict food safety and hygiene in the country can be the cheapest way to ensure good health of the teeming millions. Ill health leads to waste of national resources in terms of lost money and work hours.