Rozina Islam and Iftekhar Mahmud | Jun 29, 2015
The wheat imported from Brazil is low in quality- a test run by The food science and technology institute of Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR) found.
In the test by the organisation also known as science lab, it also came up that the quantity of crumpled and broken grain in the imported wheat is much higher than government standard as well. The weight of the wheat is also less than set standard. The organisation came up with the results after examining the samples from 14 government food godowns in the country.
However, whether the wheat is eatable or not and does it contain any poisonous substance or not was not tested. The BCSIR lab did not ran the test despite having the facility.
Director of food science and technology institute of BCSIR M Zahirul Haque told Prothom Alo, “We were not asked to run the test to identify poisonous chemical or substance. The tests which were done on the basis of eight index or features revealed that some features were good and the rest were below standard.”
On the other hand, the food department also ran tests on the wheat collected from 32 food godowns of the country. They found worms and insects in the wheat from the food godowns of seven districts. Worms were found in the wheat collected from the godowns of Joypurhat, Sirajganj, Bogra, Chuadanga, Sherpur, Patuakhali and Magura districts.
Director General (DG) of food directorate Foyez Ahmed told Prothom Alo, “I was not the director general of the food directorate when that wheat was imported. However, according to our rules, the sample of the imported wheat is first collected from the ship after it arrives at the port. We receive it after the import conditions are met by verifying the samples. Otherwise the letter of credit (LC) does not get clearance.”
After verifying the test results of the imported wheat, food experts said the wheat is of such low standard that it is not even eligible to be released. The wheat is lower than the standard said in the deal signed between the importer and the food department. The wheat should have been returned according to the import policy of the food department.
Former DG of food directorate Sarwar Khan told Prothom Alo, “It is true that the sample of the wheat we tested that time was of low standard. But it was not lower than the standard mentioned in the deal. That is why the food ministry ordered the release of the wheat.”
The food ministry on Sunday in a statement said the wheat it imported from Brazil is not rotten and uneatable. The statement said the food directorate never imported or imports uneatable or rotten wheat. The wheat imported from Brazil is eatable in accordance with the test reports found no negative reports about the wheat in the laboratory tests.
Two professors of Dhaka University who does research on food safety told Prothom Alo that the imported wheat from Brazil is not yet tested to be deemed eatable or safe. Till the tests are done, the wheat cannot be said to be safe. The law enforcement agencies have already returned the wheat. One lakh tonnes of imported wheat of the total1.5 lakh tonnes have been distributed among the poor under different government social safety programmes. While returning the wheat from different divisional offices, police in a letter said they suffered with stomach upset and abdominal pain after having bread made by the wheat. The flour made by the wheat catches insect within three-four days.
Food ministry’s comment: The ministry in a press note signed by deputy secretary Kausar Ahammad said they have invited 12 tenders to import a total of 6 lakh tonnes of wheat. Among them, two companies imported wheat from Brazil on last February-March under four tenders.
“Food is a sensitive issue. The food directorate never imported or imports uneatable or rotten wheat. The wheat imported from Brazil is eatable in accordance with the test reports,” read the press note.