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Bangladesh government to introduce formalin control

Publication Date : 27-06-2014


The government is going to enact a formalin control law to check widespread use of the chemical solution across the country.

The commerce ministry has sent the draft of the law to the cabinet division for placing it at the next cabinet meeting on Monday.

A ministry official said the proposed law will empower deputy commissioners (DC) and upazila nirbahi officers (UNO) to monitor and control use of formalin.

Formalin is a clear, colourless solution of formaldehyde in water. Widespread use of formalin in preservation of fish, fruit and other food items is posing a serious threat to public health.

The chemical, usually used as a preservative for biological specimens, is now being used to preserve edible items.

As per a provision of the drafted law, taking licence from the commerce ministry for both import and use of formalin will be made mandatory, commerce secretary Mahbub Hossain told The Daily Star.

The importers and users will have to maintain ledgers to record the volume of import and usage of the chemical.

Apart from the DCs and UNOs, the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection (DNCRP) will also monitor the import and use of formalin. The DNCRP will open its branch in every district, added the secretary.

Once the law is ratified, related rules will be framed specifying the responsibilities of the officials and organisations involved in monitoring and controlling the import and use of the chemical.

Mahbub Hossain also said the definition of formalin will be elaborated in the proposed act, which will also cover formalin dehydrate, para-formalin dehydrate and some other solutions that can be converted into formalin.

Talking to this correspondent recently, Touhid Islam of Kalaroa upazila in Satkhira said a huge amount of quality mangoes are produced in the area.  But after harvesting the fruit, traders take those to Kalaroa Bazar and use calcium carbide to ripen the fruit. Later, they treat the mangoes with formalin.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday told parliament that formalin control law is being formulated with provisions of tough punishment and hefty fines for production, import and sale of the chemical without valid licences.

The law will have provisions of a maximum punishment of life term and a minimum seven years' imprisonment, along with the highest fine of 2 million Bangladesh taka (US$25,710) for the offenders, she added.


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