06/10/2014, 00.00
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Dhaka, alarm over toxic fruit: police organize checkpoints

by Sumon Corraya
Over 70% of the fruit sold in the capital is treated with chemicals to keep it fresher for longer periods. A common practice is to inflate the mangoes with growth hormones, before passing them in formalin, melamine or methanol. Increase in liver problems and poisoning.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - As of tomorrow, Bangladesh police will set up checkpoints in eight areas of access to Dhaka, to identify fruit shipments that are contaminated with formalin and prevent their arrival on the capital's markets. The initiative follows complaints from some consumers and human rights organizations, which have demonstrated the use of chemicals in over 70% of the fruit sold in the city. " Mixing formalin in fruits - said Commissioner Benazir Ahmed - is equivalent to 'social mass murder".

The alarm was raised after a series of hospitalizations. "My child became ill and was hospitalized after eating mango. Physician said it is impact of contaminated fruits", Binoy Costa, a Catholic, told AsiaNews.

A.B.M. Faruque, Professor of Pharmaceutical Technology at the University of Dhaka, explains how fruit sold on the markets is contaminated "When a mango is green, it is sprayed with chemical insecticide to save it from pests. After that, the mango is infused with growth promoter hormones to make it grow fast".  He also said that once it is of a considerable size, it is ripened with a hormone. After the mango is plucked off the tree, it is infused with the ripening hormone again. Before being transported, it is soaked in formalin to make it look fresh.

The Association for Human Rights RDRS, active in Bangladesh, told AsiaNews that it had surveyed the markets of Dhaka and discovered that 71% of the fruit is treated with chemicals. In addition to formalin, the food is sprinkled with melamine and methanol, to make it look fresher longer.

Dr. Fatema Sultana, from the Liver Foundation Hospital in Dhaka, said that "over the past five years, the proportion of patients with liver problems has increased by 10%. We believe there is a link between these diseases and food adulteration."


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