The authorities of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) and Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) seem to have forgotten one of their mandates of ensuring safe food for city dwellers as their inspection activities have declined over the years.
The data of submitted food samples in Modern Food Testing Laboratory and Training Centre at Bangabazar showed that sanitary inspectors of DSCC and DNCC are neglecting their duties.
The DNCC inspectors did not collect any food samples in 2018 and 2019 while they collected only 26 items in 2020 and 26 food items in the last 10 months in 2021.
The inspectors filed cases against five food companies in the times in the pure food court but they did not send the name of the companies to the laboratory along with the samples
When asked, DNCC food inspector Mir Masum Ali said, “I was not bound to account to you why I did not collect food samples. I will inform my higher officials.”
On the other hand, nine sanitary inspectors of DSCC have collected and submitted only 467 food samples to the laboratory in the same period.
The DSCC sanitary inspectors have collected and submitted 17 food samples in 2019, 218 samples in 2020 and 232 in the last 10 months of this year to the laboratory. Of the food samples, only 64 samples have tested substandard and cases are against the food companies in the pure food court.
Asked about the allegation, Chief Health Officer of DSCC (additional charge) Dr Fazle Shamsul Kabir said, “There was laxity in monitoring because we had only two assistant health officers in five zones. Now, we have recruited three officers. We can recover our shortcomings now.”
He also attributed the blame of low collection samples in 2020 and 2021 to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Asked about the challenges of sanitary inspectors, he said, “We pay the price of samples to our inspectors regularly. But there was a problem regarding the payment of samples three to four years ago. Besides, dishonest businessmen create a problem. They sometimes threaten and attack the inspectors when they go to collect the samples.”
He said, “We have many challenges to collect the samples due to rude behaviour of businessmen. But it is not the key reason. Many inspectors are busy with their personal task neglecting official duty while many are involved in dishonest practice.”
Contacted, DNCC Chief Health Officer Brig Gen Md Zobaidur Rahman said that he could not answer any question over the phone.