Government Policy

Adulterated foods taking heavy toll on children

A mobile court of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) conducted a special drive in a factory named 'Quader Food Products' in Kamrangirchar area here on October 27.

During the drive, the members of RAB found a huge stock of food items meant for children like juice, jelly and chocolates produced by using mixtures of textile colours, artificial flavor, saccharine and other ingredients which are injurious to health.

Magistrate Sarwar Alam, head of the mobile court, instantly awarded punishment to owner of the factory Abdul Qauder with one and half years in jail for producing the adulterated food items. But, before that Abdul Quader uninterruptedly conducted this dirty business for two years creating serious health hazards for thousands of children.

Talking to BSS UNICEF feature service, the RAB magistrate said that the adulterated food items were produced targeting mainly the city's slum areas and outskirts of the capital. He said children are the major consumers of the adulterated foods.

The magistrate said despite continued drives against adulterated foods,this life-threatening business is not coming to an end. Taking advantage of a relaxed vigilance of law enforcement agencies, the unscrupulous traders have been carrying out their misdeeds. "Children are being exposed to serious health hazards by having these foods," he added.

Physicians said chemicals used in foods items, especially consumed by

children, are working as "slow poison" in human body. They opined that

children are taking such poisonous food mainly from two sources.

Such as (1) Using poisonous chemical and inferior quality ingredients in the children's favourite foods like chocolate, juice and jelly etc. (2) Excessive use of pesticides in various types of imported fruits and local vegetables and use of formalin and preservative in fish and vegetables as well.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO) about 4.20 lakh children die every year by taking adulterated foods. Of them, more than one third of the children are under five years of age.

Talking to one young couple -Nahida Akhtar and Khorshed Alam-- at Dhaka Shishu Hospital on November 16, this correspondent came to know that they had admitted their son "Rood" to the hospital for second time after his birth following severe stomach pain and breathing problems.

Doctors said that "Rood", a 14-year boy, was suffering from serious

stomach pain, diarrhea and breathing problems after taking adulterated food.

Technical Adviser of the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and

Research (IEDCR) Dr. Mustaq Hossain said that a large number of children came to the hospital with complaints of stomach pain, headache, diarrhea and breathing problems every day.

He said that most of them are directly affected by the adulterated foods. Apart from this, he said the adulterated food also cause harm to children in many ways. Taking adulterated food can damage kidney, liver and heart of children. Even that it may cause cancer. Besides, it can cause ulcer, cholera and skin disease in children's body.

Not only processed food, but pesticides and other preservatives are being used alarmingly in vegetables and fishes. A research conducted by Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) revealed that excessive pesticides are being used in vegetables, shrimp and dried fish.

BARI has revealed the result by carrying out the survey by collecting 454 samples from markets of the country's 12 districts in between 2011-2014.

Among those, maximum pesticides are used in dried fish. The research

recommended of taking immediate steps to prevent use of pesticide and other chemicals in foods, otherwise the uncontrolled use of such poisonous elements would cause a serious health hazards.

Prof. A B M Maruf of Medicine Technology Department of Dhaka University while talking about the severity of the use of pesticide and chemical in foods said that the toxic substance create a long lasting impact in human body.

It loses effectiveness of human bone. Increasing number of asthma is one of the reasons of consumption of toxic foods.

In 2013, 13 children in the country's northern Dinajpur district died

after taking pesticides used litchi, a seasonal juicy fruits. After two years, same incident occurred in the district when 11 children died in 2015.Later, it was revealed that the children died after taking litchi in which pesticides were sprayed.

IEDCR research finds that the litchi farmers used to spray 13 types of

pesticides in their orchards. Apart from this, they use other pesticides with the name of "anti-fungal", "growth hormone". Those are very harmful for human consumption.

A research team of California State of the United States said that they have found relations of pesticides with autistic disorder of children. The research revealed that the risk of being affected by Autism of the children who are living near the farms where pesticides are used is much higher than the children who live far away from the farms.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)