Branded companies deceive consumers, abuse trust in goods

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Branded companies deceive consumers, abuse trust in goods

Senior RAB official’s interview to The Independent
Sarweor Alam, Executive Magistrate
Publication Date: 9 January, 2016
CHITTAGONG: A section of the branded companies is taking advantage of the trust reposed in their goods by consumers and deceiving them with impunity. Even though the prices of the goods of the branded companies are high, people regularly buy these goods since they believe their quality to be good.  In an exclusive interview with The Independent yesterday, Sarwoer Alam, executive magistrate of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) (headquarters), stated that these companies are deceiving consumers by mixing toxic ingredients with food items such as oil, milk, sweet, biscuits, ‘chanachur’ and noodles. Alam has been engaged in a campaign against some well-known companies in Chittagong since December 24 last year after coming from the RAB headquarters at Dhaka.
According to him, the current state of production by companies at which they conducted drives “is calamitous”.  These companies are producing sub-standard goods—the chemicals and ingredients they are using for producing foods should not be used with food items,” he said. “It is really regrettable. Some companies are cheating consumers, claiming that their goods are good, when they do not maintain proper standards. They even fail to maintain a minimal level of neatness and cleanliness at their factories,” he added.
“We have found a new tendency. Some companies are labelling advanced dates of production on their products, instead of putting the real dates. This is just cheating the consumers by deceiving them with false sell-by dates. They are misguiding the people, as the firms make them consume food items that are past their expiry dates,” he added.
“A new type of deception was detected while conducting a mobile court at Teer Soybean Oil, a sister concern of City Group and Dada Soybean Oil, a sister concern of Elias & Brothers. They did not mix Vitamins ‘A’ and ‘D’, although they had written on the labels of bottles that certain vitamins had been mixed with the edible oil. The government has enacted a law making it mandatory to include certain amounts of vitamins with edible oil. We have fined Dada Tk. 20 lakh and Teer Tk. 4 lakh on these grounds,” he said.
“They do not follow government directives. Moreover, they have not renewed their Bangladesh Standard and Testing Institution (BSTI) licences; yet, they are using the BSTI logo to sell oil in the market,” he observed.
“We have also fined eight salt manufacturing factories at Majirghat Tk. 5.8 lakh for not adding iodine to their salt and for not having BSTI licences. These companies had cheated consumers, having written on their packets that they had added iodine to salt,” he said.
“We have imposed a fine of Tk. 15 lakh on Modhuban, asking it why it is using industrial chemicals for producing sweets. They failed to give a satisfactory answer,” said Alam.
“At the Modhuban factory, we found that it is mixing hydrogen peroxide (a harmful chemical) with biscuits to make them solid, frying ‘chanachur’ with Mobil, and putting labels of manufacturing dates on packets three to four months in advance of the real manufacturing date.
The dishes had not been cleaned for many months, as a result of which mould had grown on them,” he told The Independent.
The unhygienic and dirty environment generates carcinogenic agents, which are deleterious for public health, Alam pointed out. These cause cirrhosis of livers and cancer in humans, he noted.
“We have fined Banoful Tk. 15 lakh for producing sweets in an unhygienic environment and mixing artificial sweetener,” he disclosed.
“We were quite surprised while conducting a mobile court at Abul Khair Group’s factory. They were repackaging Seylon Tea past their expiry dates. We have seized 160 sacks of such tea.  They were producing Marks Milk past their dates of expiry. They have imported bulk quantities of milk past their expiry date,” he said.
“Abul Khair is a company that sells sub-standard goods in a syndicated way. We found printed labels on the packets, which are already past their expiry dates. The company was fined Tk. 6 lakh,” he added.
He expressed regret that BSTI, which is supposed to monitor all these, cannot fulfil its duty properly “as it lacks logistical support and manpower”.
To eradicate these tendencies from the country, the RAB official placed emphasis on business morality, patriotism and law enforcement. “It is not possible to eradicate these phenomena simply with law enforcement—the three aspects require coordinated efforts,” he said.
Shamsuddin Illius
Shamsuddin Illius is a print and online media journalist. He has been working in the field (fulltime) of journalism since 2010. He is very much passionate about journalism since his early age. Currently he is the Bureau Chief-Chittagong at The Business Standard.

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