The High Court has barred sale and administration of antibiotics to cattle without a veterinary doctor’s prescription.
The bench of Justice Md Nazrul Islam and KM Hafizul Alam gave the order on Tuesday (Jul 16), after Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) submitted a report on milk samples of 14 widely sold brands.
The reports found harmful traces of lead in 11 of the 14 pasteurised milk brands registered with Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institute (BSTI).
The food safety agency found lead in the samples of Milk Vita, Dairy Fresh, Igloo, Farm Fresh, Aftab Milk, Ultra Milk, Aarong, Pran Milk, Iron, Pura and Safe.
The court also ordered BFSA to submit a report on the measures taken by it to tackle the adulteration of milk and livestock fodder by July 28.
On Feb 11, a National Food Safety Laboratory (NFSL) survey report submitted to the HC, found high levels of contaminants in milk and dairy products.
The court had also asked NFSL Dr Shahnila Ferdous to appear before the court on Jun 21 and describe the methods used to collect samples of milk.
The survey results had also prompted the same HC bench to order the authorities concerned to form a committee and find out how much contaminated milk, dairy products and cow fodders are supplied and sold across Bangladesh. It also wanted those responsible identified.
BFSA formed a 16-member committee on Feb 17, but it did not identify those responsible for the adulteration in its report.
The NFSL report said that molecular analysis found Total Plate Counts (TPC) and Coliform Counts (CC) above permissible limits in 93 out of 96 samples of raw milk, and salmonella in one sample.
Chemical analysis also found, above permissible limits, pesticides in nine samples, lead in five, aflatoxin in three, tetracycline in 10 and ciprofloxacin in one.
Tetracycline is a broad spectrum antibiotic often used on animals, while aflatoxins are poisonous carcinogens that are produced by certain molds which grow in soil, decaying vegetation, hay, and grains.
NFSL had also tested packaged milk samples — 21 local and 10 imported.
Of the local samples, molecular analysis found TPC and CC above permissible limits in 17 and molds in 14, while CC was above permissible limits in one sample of imported milk.
A day after the NFSL report was published, on Feb 11, the High Court, in a suo moto rule ordered the authorities, including the Anti-Corruption Commission, to identify the responsible companies.
The secretaries of food, agriculture, fisheries and livestock, and health ministries and the Cabinet Division, all members of BFSA, members of CFSMCC, and chairman of BSTI were made respondents to the rule.
Besides, the court had issued a ruling seeking an explanation as to why the inaction and failure of the respondents to stop the adulteration of cow milk and dairy products should not be declared illegal, and why those responsible for the adulteration should not be brought to book.