Milk producing companies passed a week of uncertainty last week
Locally pasteurized milk ilk is harmful for health — locally pasteurized milk is not harmful for health is the debate that captured public concern over the past weeks and few months.
Following media report and credible laboratory test findings the High Court earlier last week banned the distribution and marketing of liquid milk brands of 14 local companies for five weeks.
But the Appellate Division of Supreme Court bench on Monday allowed Milk Vita in the first place to continue marketing their milk brands on the plea that they are working on a new processing plant to further reduce the level of lead and anti-biotics to keep it at tolerable level.
The Appellate Division on Tuesday again cleared the way for Farm Fresh being marketed by Akij Food and Beverage Ltd (Farm Fresh Milk) and Pran Milk produced and being marketed by Pran Dairy Ltd to produce, distribute and sell their pasteurized milk.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, now staying in London raised the issue of High Court ban order on 14 milk companies at a meeting of the party leaders on Tuesday over a video conference. She raised the fear that the entire development may be the work of the import lobbies. It will being setback to rural economy.
She also called for laboratory test of powdered milk being imported in the country.
She blamed the Dhaka University professor for initially breaking the issue on public heath ground based on his research findings. Meanwhile, the Attorney General started appearing for the mild brands before the Supreme Court in his capacity as their individual lawyer and the wheel started to turn around.
Earlier the argument was that no one should be allowed to play foul with public health. Now that no one should be allowed to disturb business using fictitious grounds.
Justice Md Nuruzzaman, chamber judge of the Appellate Division, stayed for five weeks the parts of a High Court order that earlier directed the two companies to stop producing, distributing and selling pasteurised milk.
The chamber judge passed the order after hearing two separate petitions filed by the companies seeking stay on those parts of the HC order. The apex court also asked the two companies to file separate leave to appeal petitions with this court challenging the HC order in five weeks.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam, who appeared for the two companies told the media that the SC chamber judges passed the stay order on the ground that the presence of lead and antibiotics in the pasteurised milk of the two companies did not exceed the danger level.
Following the SC order, there is no legal bar for the two companies to go forward with the production and distribution of their pasteurised milk products, he said.
The attorney general said other 11 companies, who also received the same ban order from the HC, will move separate petitions before the SC for stay orders on the HC directive.
Earlier on Monday, the SC’s chamber judge cleared the way for Bangladesh Milk Producers Cooperative Union Limited (Milk Vita) to produce, distribute and sell pasteurised milk.
On Sunday last, the HC bench first issued the ban on 14 companies after examining three laboratory test reports, which found that the milk of these companies contains antibiotics — Oxytetracycline, Tetracycline and Ciprofloxacin — as well as lead, a harmful heavy metal.
The 14 companies are Aftab Milk and Milk Products Ltd (Aftab), Akij Food and Beverage Ltd (Farm Fresh Milk), American Dairy Limited (MOO), Bangladesh Milk Producers Cooperative Limited (Milk Vita), Baro Awlia Dairy Milk and Foods Ltd (Dairy Fresh).
It also include Brac Dairy and Food Project (Aarong Dairy), Danish Dairy Farm Ltd (Ayran), Ichhamoti Dairy and Food Products (PURA), Igloo Dairy Limited (Igloo), Pran Dairy Ltd (Pran Milk), Uttar Bango Dairy (Ultra), Purbo Bangla Dairy Food Industries (Arwa) and Tania Dairy and Food Products (Safe).
The BSTI tested the milk of these companies at the laboratories of Institute of Public Health (IPH), Bangladesh Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR) and Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) in line with the July 14 order by the HC.