Researchers allege trick in test report announcement

November 5, 2008

MELAMINE PRESENCE IN MILK
Researchers allege trick in test report announcement
Kazi Azizul Islam.
The commerce ministry has played a trick in making decisions on the test of tainted brands of imported powder milk, leaving people confused, alleged researchers and consumer rights activists on Tuesday.
The ministry on Monday announced five out of the eight milk brands tested were free of melamine by endorsing the results of the tests by the Bangladesh Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and a Bangkok laboratory under the supervision of the Food and Agriculture Organisation.
But the ministry did not disclose the report of the test conducted by the Atomic Energy Commission.
Samples of Sweet Baby, Yashili 1 and Yashili 2 sourced from China, Nido Fortified Instant and Anlene from New Zealand, Diploma and Red Cow from Australia and Dano from Denmark. The government said the brands sourced from China were found to have contained melamine.
One of the two Atomic Energy Commission scientists, who conducted the tests, on Tuesday told New Age they were advised by the high up in the government not to talk with the media about the tests or findings.
‘We cannot say anything. But we have many things to say,’ said the scientist, involved in three government committees dealing with the melamine issue.
Professor Nilufar Nahar of the chemistry department in Dhaka University told New Age the experts had seen the commission’s test report which found the presence of melamine in seven out of the eight brands at high percentage.
‘The commission, in its report, said some samples contained melamine more than 200 milligram per kilogram,’ said Nilufar, alleging the commerce ministry ‘mysteriously blacked out the report.’
Niulfar said the ministry relied on tests conducted under FAO supervision and by the BCSIR although, ‘The FAO and BCSIR reports could not satisfy experts in many vital technical aspects.’
‘The findings have been recorded and we request the commerce ministry to place the report in the High Court,’ said Nilufar, also a member on the expert committee.
The High Court asked the government to ban the sales and display of the eight imported milk brands after a petition referring to the Dhaka University test report had been filed.
The Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution gave the samples of the powder milk to Dhaka University for testing and the university’s chemistry department found all the eight samples to have contained melamine.
The government arranged repeat tests on milk samples under the supervision of the Food and Agriculture Organisation in Bangkok, by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Atomic Energy Commission in Dhaka.
Sweet Baby, Yashili 1 and 2 were also found to have contained melamine in lab testing done earlier by the Standards and Testing Institution and private-sector enterprise PlasmaPlus.
Nilufar claimed the commerce ministry played a trick in announcing that milk brands, except for the brands sourced from China, did not have any presence of melamine.
‘The ministry said only the three Chinese brands contained melamine, but the BCSIR and FAO tests found melamine only one Chinese brand, Yashili 2.’
Nilufar criticised the commerce adviser, Hossain Zillur Rahman, for saying that the Dhaka University lab and Nilufar had no specialisation in melamine testing and that Nilufar was a vegetable researcher.
 ‘I have experience of working with 92 international publications, mostly specialised in this category of researches,’ Nilufar said. ‘So the adviser lied before the media and misguided the citizens. He should immediately resign.’
Emdad Hossian Malek, an official of the Consumer Association of Bangladesh, said the government’s handling of repeat tests of the milk brands had further confused the consumers.
 ‘Almost everyone senses now problem with the government activities although it was the government’s responsibility to deal with everything in a plain and prudent manner as the issue poses serious health risk, especially of infants,’ he said.

Courtesy: NewAge (newagebd.com)

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