Tough stance against toxic fruit sellers
The High Court (HC) Monday appropriately instructed the authorities concerned to form separate teams to monitor fruit markets and warehouses across the country in order to ensure that chemicals are not used to ripen seasonal fruits. We welcome the directive. On April 9, the HC had directed the authorities concerned to deploy the police within seven days in major mango orchards across the country, including Rajshahi, to prevent the use of chemicals in mangoes. The court had also directed that a report on this be submitted within the next 30 days.
As summer continues, markets of the country will soon be flooded with various delicious fruits, particularly mango, jackfruit and litchi. However, it's obvious that fasting Muslims will be taking various fruits, particularly mangoes, at Iftar. But if the mango is laced with chemicals, it will cause more harm than good. That's why all fruits should be naturally ripened and the government administration as well as the law enforcers will have to ensure safe consumption on seasonal fruits. Artificial ripening brings a negative change in nutritional values in fruits and the changes may hamper natural growth of body or result in a number of health conditions.
The fruits laced with toxic substances cause various diseases, including respiratory problem, asthma, intestinal disease, kidney failure and even cancer. That's not all --fruits imported from abroad also contain preservatives that are extremely harmful to health. These fruits must be brought under careful scrutiny of food inspectors. And exemplary action must be taken against toxic fruit traders and sellers.
The drive launched by the law enforcement agency personnel against chemically ripened fruits in the capital city and other places in the country in the past earned the confidence of the people to some extent. Hundreds of tonnes of toxic mangoes have been destroyed in different places of Dhaka a couple of years ago. This has shaken the stronghold of the profit-mongering dishonest businessmen and their patrons. Many people who stopped taking fruits started taking the same again.
The drive against sale of toxic fruits must continue for a longer period of time to continuously reprimand culprits who are playing with the lives of the people. If the drive is slackened, the dishonest traders will take advantage of it and will start their malpractice again jeopardizing public health. To finish with, mobile courts cannot be a substitute for constant monitoring of food items the public is consuming. Mobile courts do not issue license to trade in toxic fruits, so the onus primarily lies on the regularity body for supervising fruit traders and sellers--city and municipality corporations and the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution--for strictly monitoring the fruit markets.