The government of Bangladesh is set to pass a tough new law in the next session of the parliament to regulate fish and animal feed manufacturing and stop cancer-causing antibiotics being passed into the food chain.
Fisheries and livestock departments have formulated a draft Fish and Animal Feed Law, which is expected to be tabled and passed in the winter session of the house, Rafiqul Islam, director general of department of fisheries, said.
"The parliamentary standing committee on fisheries and livestock ministry has already reviewed the law. We hope it will be passed very quickly," he said.
Nitrofuran in prawns
The move came after cancer-causing toxic antibiotic, nitrofuran, was detected in Bangladeshi fresh water prawn exported to the European Union countries early this year.
The EU sent back the consignments, seriously affecting the image of the country's frozen food industry and raising fear for the future of fish export from Bangladesh.
Officials blamed rogue fish feed manufacturers for passing the harmful nitrofuran into the shrimp being farmed in the country's hundreds of thousands of ponds and sweet water bodies.
"The nitrofuran scam has greatly raised awareness on the danger of shoddy fish and animal feed," said an official.
Control feed makers
Islam said the broad aim of the law is to regulate the country's scores of feed makers and importers, who very often sell sub-standard and adulterated fish and animal meals, exposing millions of people to deadly diseases like cancer.
"Presently, local feed manufacturers and suppliers are not registered and they require no licenses. Due to lack of law, some of them get away with selling poor quality feed, chemicals and antibiotics in the market," he said.
Feed ingredients that farmers use were found to have been contaminated with harmful metabolites and chloramphenicol.
They also use poultry litter to fertilise ponds or as feed ingredients, which has already been detected as a major source of harmful antibiotics, such as nitrofuran, Islam said.