"The authority will inspect the factories, and take stern measures against the companies, which will not follow the safety rules,” said Qamrul Islam in Dhaka.
In February, the government began enacting the Food Safety Act 2013 and appointing members of the five-member Bangladesh Food Safety Authority, which will put an end to the previous, multi-ministry-controlled regulator which was seen to bring more confusion than satisfactory resolutions.
Previously, Bangladesh’s food supply was overseen under legislation that dated back to 1959 and was limited in scope.
The government framed the safe food act in October 2013 amid rising health threats and widespread food adulteration through the use of chemicals. But the law could not immediately be enforced owing to a delay in framing rules and forming a food safety advisory council and the BFSA, officials said.
The newly amended Act allows anyone to lodge a complaint with the chairman of the authority against food manufacturers and seek compensation.
It categorises 23 offences for which those convicted will face up to five years in prison and/or a BDT1,000,000 (US$12,800) fine.
Under rules governing the use of insecticides, hormones, antibiotics and other chemicals, those found to have caused adulteration beyond permissible limits face three years in prison and/or a fine of BDT600,000 fine. The same penalty applies to food service owners who are found to cause health hazards to consumers.
It also has a provision to penalise public officials who are found to have failed to discharge their duties as stipulated in the Act. Mobile courts are expected to be formed to hear criminal cases.