7-yr jail for food adulteration
The cabinet on Monday endorsed a draft law for regulating production and marketing of breast-milk substitutes with a provision for a complete ban on advertisements of such products.
The health and family welfare ministry placed the draft bill at the weekly cabinet meeting, proposing maximum three years of imprisonment and Tk five lakh in fine for offences under the new law, according to officials concerned.
Chaired by the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, the cabinet also approved in principle the draft ‘Safe Food Bill, 2013 placed by the food ministry in the face of the present authorities’ failure to check widespread adulteration of food that puts public health at risk.
‘The draft law for regulation of production and marketing of breast-milk supplement stipulates a complete ban on advertisement on breast-milk substitutes, but production and marketing of such baby food would remain legal,’ cabinet secretary Mohammad Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan told a press briefing after the meeting.
He said the move had been initiated to discourage consumption of breast-milk substitutes and also to encourage mothers to breastfeed their babies.
The cabinet secretary said that the Breastfeeding Substitutes, Commercially Produced Child Food Supplements and Machinery for Production of Such Items (regulation of marketing, etc) Bill 2013 would replace the existing Breast-milk Substitutes (regulation of marketing) Ordinance, 1984.
According to the ordinance, breast-milk substitute means any food represented as a partial or total substitute for breast-milk and includes a supplementary food and complementary food means any food represented as a complement to breast-milk or infant formula.
Promotion of breast-milk substitute is already prohibited in the existing law, which says, ‘No person shall promote any breast-milk substitute either by advertisement or by offering or giving any gift, prize, discount coupon, or other free item or by any other means.’
The law proposed mandatory registration for marketing and distribution agencies. The companies concerned will have to obtain permission of the government for import of machinery for production and process of breast-milk substitutes.
The draft Safe Food Bill, 2013 would replace the outdated ‘Pure Food Ordinance, 1959.’
‘The cabinet has approved in principle the draft Safe Food Bill, 2013 with
some observations. The food ministry has been asked to send the draft to the law ministry for vetting after making further improvement,’ Musharraf Hossain said.
The new law was being framed with ‘an aim to check food adulteration more effectively, he added.
He said Bangladesh Safe Food Authority would be established under the new law.
The institution would coordinate drives against food adulteration under various authorities and it would have the legal authority to ensure accountability at all stages of food production, packaging and its distribution.
An advisory committee headed by the food minister would give policy directives to the authority while a technical committee will provide technical support to their operations.
The draft of the Safe Food Bill proposed for highest seven years rigorous imprisonment and Tk 10 lakh in penalty for offenses relating to food adulteration.
It incorporates a provision of 14 years of imprisonment for committing the offence of food adulteration for the second time, the cabinet secretary added.
The move came amid growing concern over sale of chemical-mixed food items, mainly fish, vegetables and fruits posing serious health hazards, said officials.
-With New Age input