Dhaka: Bangladesh cabinet on Monday approved a new law with a provision of seven years jail term to tackle food adulteration amid growing concerns in the country over sale of adulterated food posing serious health hazards.
The cabinet approved the draft of `Safe Food Act-2013` that proposes provision of maximum jail term of seven years. The penalty will double if the offence is repeated.
"The new law suggests 14 years of imprisonment for repeated offence," cabinet secretary Muhammad Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan told PTI.
He said once enacted by the parliament, the law would allow mobile and penal courts to hand down jail sentences up to 14 years along with fines for food crimes under 22 categories.
Officials familiar with the process, however, said the original draft of the law suggested death penalty for the food crimes which could cause loss of lives but it was scaled down for technical reasons and seeking intensified preventive measures to stop sale of adulterated or low quality food.
The new law came amid growing concerns expressed by experts and consumer rights groups who said food adulteration reached a dangerous proportion posing serious health hazards in the country.
This prompted authorities to engage mobile courts to hand down punishments up to several months of jail terms under the existing law as officials found chemical toxins used in basic food items on the market like rice, fish, fruits, vegetables, and sweetmeats mostly as preservatives in indiscriminate manner.
Experts and officials said more than 76 per cent food items in the market were found adulterated in a random survey by Public Health Laboratory of Dhaka City Corporation.