QUALITY OF CONSUMER FOOD PRODUCTS DURING FESTIVALS AND THE ROLE OF UNPRINCIPLED PRODUCERS

অতিথি লেখক's picture
Submitted by guest_writer on Thu, 15/08/2013 - 3:50am
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Bangladesh has a rich diverse culture. Most of its people have their own culture and different life style. Its deeply rooted heritage is thoroughly reflected in its architecture, literature, music, painting, festival and clothing. The two prime religions of Bangladesh are Islam and Hinduism which have had a great influence on its culture. A series of festivals varying from race to race are observed here. The two big festivals of the Muslims are Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha, Hindus observe Durga Puja, Saraswati Puja, Kali Puja and many others. Also there are common festivals which are observed country wide by people irrespective of races. Pahela Baishak (the first day of Bangla year) is such a festival.

One of the two prime religious festivals of our country is Eid-ul-Fitr which is celebrated after a month long fasting of the holy Ramadan. During this period of the year, a huge amount of domestic & external trades take place. This is because the demand of consumer products increases by a great extent. It ranges almost everything from food items, clothing, cosmetics to handicrafts and many more. The most important part of any festival around the world is the food items. In this writing the main focus will be on the quality of locally produced food items during Eid-ul-Fitr in our country. Actually this particular festival itself is not an event of a couple of days. It starts from the very first day of Ramadan as we can see from the arrangements and celebration of the people over the years.

Any festival is a moment full of joy and happiness but the quality of consumer food items in manufacturing level has been a matter of great concern during these festivals in our country in recent years. Firstly, we can consider various “iftar” items such as chick-pea, powdered pulse, dates (mostly an imported product), various types of spices etc. which are sold with the mixtures of various impurities by the dishonest profit seeker retailers. People of low income level buy these products from those retailers which in fact are the products with low quality and don’t have any date of expiry. The demand of all types of food items increases greatly just before a week or two from the Ramadan. To fulfill this huge demand the pressure on import is high. Since the demand is higher the price of imported products must be slightly higher than average price of imported products in other periods of the year. But the truth is that in Bangladesh, the prices of products during festivals are much higher than the average price of the mentioned periods which is observed only in our country in the world. This is due to the syndicate of importers of these products which has been a very big problem in Bangladesh for many years that is yet to control. So the lack of monitoring and regulation by the government agencies is everywhere, from dishonest profit seeker retailers to mega importers.

However, the quality of imported products is good and the prices are higher as it is mentioned above and so why is out of reach of the poor people. But the main concern is the quality of locally produced consumer food products where the minimum quality is not maintained. One of the most favorite sweetmeats of our country is “semai (vermicelli)” and it is cooked almost in every family on Eid day. This favorite sweetmeat is not produced with good care and in a minimum standard environment at all. During inspection of the government authorities and the investigation team of various media it was found that some unauthorized and seasonal producers who even don’t have license were mixing chemicals with the raw elements to make the product colorful to attract the consumers. These chemicals are extremely harmful for health and source of various diseases of lungs, lever, skin etc. As these are affordable, low income consumers are bound to buy these low quality products where the scope of examining the quality is absent because a BSTI (Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution) mark is on the packs.

Another highly demanded consumer product during Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr is liquid milk. Since the demand of liquid milk is many times higher than the usual demand of the consumers, it is the best time for the dishonest producers to have profit. It is common that producers mix water with liquid milk but during inspection it was found that only a small proportion of pure milk is mixed with water and white chemicals are added to keep the density just like the pure milk by some unscrupulous producers. This is certainly understandable that these are just a few examples of how the hundreds of consumer products are produced in our country especially during festivals when the demand of these products is very high. The unprincipled producers and retailers take this opportunity where margin of profit is very high and are produced with or without the supervision of the authority.

The scenario presented here in this writing is nothing different from that we used to see during the whole year when we find harmful chemicals almost in every food items i.e. fruits, vegetable, fish etc. Government authorities take some punitive steps but only randomly which is not enough to keep us healthy.

QUAZI RAFIQUL ISLAM


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