Samples of powdered milk of eight brands that had tested positive for melamine contamination were handed over to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) yesterday for further testing.
A 12-member experts committee formed Monday to supervise the matter also sent samples of these products to the laboratories of Bangladesh Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR) and Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) for re-test as confusions arose over differing test results from local laboratories.
The test results are expected to be available to the government in 9-10 days and the government will take a decision on the eight popular brands on the basis of those reports, an official of the commerce ministry told The Daily Star yesterday.
Meanwhile, Nestlé Bangladesh Ltd, which markets Nido fortified instant, and New Zealand Dairy Products, which sells Fonterra brands Red Cow, Diploma and Anlene, yesterday questioned the results of the tests conducted by the chemistry department of Dhaka University (DU) two days ago.
The DU chemistry department found unacceptable levels of melamine in all the eight brands in question–Nido fortified instant, Red Cow, Yashili 1, Sweet Baby, Diploma, Anlene, Yashili 2 and Dano. Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) found the toxic element in Yashili 1 while private laboratory Plasma Plus found it in one of the four coded samples sent to it by the BSTI.
An inter-ministerial meeting decided Sunday to test samples of the same batches of these products again.
Commerce Adviser Hossain Zillur Rahman yesterday gave necessary instructions to the experts committee convenor, commerce ministry joint secretary Mohammad Ali Patwari, asking him to send the samples to the FAO.
Sohel Shahriar Rana, brand manager of Fonterra’s Bangladesh representative New Zealand Dairy, yesterday said, “No toxic element has been found in the products Fonterra is selling in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand and these products bear the same batch codes. The method the Dhaka University chemistry department applied was definitely wrong.”
Questioning the security arrangement of the DU chemistry department, he said some people might have contaminated the samples there.
“Besides, the department is not internationally authorised to carry out such tests,” he added.
Nestlé Bangladesh Managing Director Laurent Therond also expressed doubts about the DU chemistry department findings and claimed Nido fortified instant to be safe and free from melamine.
“It might have been for them [DU chemistry department] the first time they were doing research. I cannot judge,” Therond said.
He said Nestlé Bangladesh sent samples of the same batch of this product for testing in Thailand, India and New Zealand and found no melamine.
However, talking to The Daily Star yesterday, Dr Nilufar Nahar, who carried out the tests at the DU department’s laboratory, said the results are 100 percent correct.
“We are confident about the results of our tests detecting melamine in the samples of powdered milk provided by the BSTI,” she said.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Neonatal Forum yesterday expressed deep concern at the news of baby formula containing melamine and asked parents to stop feeding all alternative food items including powdered milk and milk products to their children.
After only breastfeeding babies for six months, the parents should give them soft food like suji, khichuri, fruits and eggs, they said.
Samajtantrik Mohila Forum and Kendrio Khelaghar Asar yesterday demanded banning different brands of powdered milk tainted with melamine and punishment to those corrupt traders for playing with the life of children who are the future of a nation.
The government cannot avoid its responsibility of ensuring citizens’ safety, the forum members said at a press conference. They demanded testing of other brands of powdered milk available in the market.
Source: The Daily Star, October 22, 2008