FOOD CONTAMINANTS: BANGLADESH PERSPECTIVE

 

About Authors:
Zubair Khalid Labu1; AK Mohiuddin1; M.A Bake*2
1Department of Pharmacy, World University of Bangladesh (WUB), Dhaka-1215, Bangladesh
*2Product Development officer, Gonoshasthaya Pharmaceuticals Ltd., Mirzanagar, Savar, Dhaka-1344.
zubairlabu@yahoo.com; *abdul.bake@yahoo.com

Abstract
Food is the major source of energy in humans as well as animals. Foods are materials taken into the body by different route which provide nourishment in the form of energy or in the building of tissues. Food contaminants are substances that make food unfit for human consumption. Examples include bacteria, toxic chemicals, carcinogens, teratogens and radioactive materials. The purpose of these studies is to find out the food contaminants which are used in different purposes available in Bangladesh and contaminants detection method. After survey we found that Dhaka is the main city where food contamination by various contaminants in higher percentage. This contamination done by manmade, industrial discharge, poisonous water etc. Government of Bangladesh taking various necessary steps to stop this contamination.

Reference Id: PHARMATUTOR-ART-1570

Introduction
Contaminated foods and drinks are common sources of infection. Among the more common infections that one can get from contaminated foods and drinks are typhoid fever, Escherichia coli infections, shigellosis or bacillary dysentery, giardiasis, cryptosporidiosis, other salmonelloses, cholera, rotavirus infections, also a variety of worm infestations are more common. Many of the infectious diseases transmitted in food and water can also be acquired directly through the faecal-oral route. Food contamination with poisonous chemicals has been reached a dangerous proportion, posing serious health hazards in the country. Basic food items in the market like rice, fish, fruits, vegetables, and sweetmeats are adulterated with hazardous chemicals in an indiscriminate manner, though food-grade preservatives and colors can be safety used in permissible quantities.

Present situation in our country
Dhaka city now alone generates 3500-4000 tones of solid wastes per day from industrial discharge, fertilizers, fossil fuels, sewage sludge and municipality wastes and they are the major sources of heavy metals in soils and subsequent uptake by crops, vegetables and other food items causing serious health hazards to human beings. A significant transfer of heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, zinc, molybdenum and vanadium took place from soils to vegetables (spinach, tomato and cauliflower) grown in industrially polluted soils of Konabari at Gazipur and Keraniganj in Dhaka.

In Bangladesh, industrial wastes and effluents are being discharged randomly on soils, into canals, rivers, along the road sides or in the vicinity of the industrial areas without any treatment where polluted river water is being used for irrigation purpose in paddy and vegetable cultivation causing absorption of heavy metals through the food chain by human beings.

In the backdrop of reports of raid and seizure of fake and adulterated food items pouring in everyday, people wonder whether what they are eating is food or poison. With a totally inefficient monitoring system, just having tough laws is hardly enough to keep unscrupulous traders from tampering with food items.

Encouragingly, BSTI revealed that, in the current year, it had conducted countrywide drives against fake and adulterated food through operation of mobile courts, instituted 1,822 criminal cases, and realized over Tk. 4 crore as fine. But realization of fine has not helped to curb this criminal offence. The government can’t allow a handful of unscrupulous traders to play with the lives of the citizens, especially the children, and get away with impunity.

In Bangladesh, about the proportion of adulterated food items in the market varied between 70 and 90 percent. More than 76 percent food items in the market were found adulterated in a random survey by public health laboratory of Dhaka City Corporation in 2004.

According to the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease & Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR, B), there is approximately 150 food items in the country. A study by the Institute of Public Health (IPH) revealed that more than 50% of the food samples they tested were adulterated. Textile dyes, which are highly injurious to health, are being randomly used to color many types of food. Fish is considered to be an essential protein for people of all ages.

Many fish sellers spray fish with formalin in an indiscriminate manner, It makes the fish or fruits stiff and keeps them looking fresh for longer.Undoubtadey human heath is now under the possession of formalin, in our country about 400 tons formalin is being imported which are goes to human stomach, even though for laboratory or research purposes 100 tons of Formalin is quite enough, 80% of the imported formalin being added to food only for business purposes. Milk in rural areas is usually adulterated with dirty water, which can cause hepatitis. People have now come to know about a new milk adulteration technique that uses a thickening agent, sorbitol, and detergent.

Vegetable and fruit samples collected from around Savar, Dhamrai and Tongi show the presence of textile dyes, which, in the short-term, will cause diarrhea, food poisoning and gastrointestinal problems, but in the long-term toxic materials will accumulate in the body with serious health implications. In the absence of effluent treatment plants (ETP), the factory wastes are drained out at will into the farmlands, and ultimately contaminate the farm produce.

In our country we have allowed things like pollution and food contamination to run riot. Till now, no agency, either under the health ministry or the ministry of science and technology or the ministry of industries, has conducted any examination of the pesticide- residue levels or toxic chemicals in the foodstuff being marketed.

Table 1. Name of toxic food contaminants and purpose of application

Contaminants

Purpose

Formalin

Preservation of fish, Meat, Milk

Calcium carbide(CaC2)

Fruit to ripen

Brick dust

Chili powder

Urea

For whiten rice and puffed rice

Saw dust

Loose tea

Melamine

Milk products

Soap

Ghee

Artificial sweetener, coal tar & textile dyes

Sweetmeats

Sulfuric acid

Milk condensation

DDT

As insecticide during drying fish

Ethylene oxide

To ripe of Papaya and bananas

Impact of food contaminants on public heath
The safety certi?cation is achieved assessing the potentially health adverse effects of food contamination. Three main food contamination groups can be identi?ed: i. physical; ii. Microbiological; iii. Chemical. Physical contaminations are due to the presence of extraneous bodies in food (plastic, woods, glass and others) as the results, for example, of food packaging and/or transformation and/or storage. The substances present in those materials are not for human consumption, but when  in  contact  with  food  they  migrate into it and risk of being ingested (for example, the per?uorinated chemicals used in greaseproof packaging for fast foods). Microbiological contamination refers to the presence of one or more natural biological agents, such as various bacteria, yeasts, mould, fungi, protozoa or their toxins and by-products, which can adulterate food properties and safety. Microbiological agents are responsible for “food diseases” such as food borne infections and intoxications (Botulinum, Listeria, and Hepatitis A) and epidemic episodes (e.g., Salmonella enteritidis). Chemical contaminants or xenobiotics can originate from many different sources and include heavy metals, pesticides, phytopharmaceuticals, antibiotics, additives, dioxins and PCBs. Nowadays; chemical contaminants are a major concern for food safety because of the increased role of man-made chemicals due to our modern lifestyles.

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