In compliance with a High Court order, a group of importers have to send back 53 tonnes of banned meat and bone meal (MBM) that they imported in the name of fish feed.
The Custom House, Chattogram blocked the release of the MBM after finding pig by-products and bones in the shipments.
Twenty-three importers brought the shipments through Chattogram port from June to December last year. The 37 consignments from Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Belgium and Sri Lanka are worth around $7.5 million.
The Custom House, Chattogram first tested the imported feeds in its own laboratory. Following an appeal by importers, these were again tested in the icddr,b and the Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research laboratories.
All the test results showed the presence of bovine and porcine by-products in the feeds.
The importers then appealed to the High Court, seeking clearance for the goods but the court ordered not to release the consignments. Consequently, they now have to send back the products.
"We will not release the banned MBM consignments under any condition. Five companies were already given permission to re-export their MBM and the process to allow some other companies to do so is going on," said Mohammad Fakhrul Alam, commissioner of Custom House, Chattogram.
Chattogram Magnify Agro Limited, Fishtech BD Limited, Advance Agrotech Bangladesh, VNF Agro Limited, and Aquatech Agro BD Limited have acquired the National Board of Revenue's permission for re-exporting the imported goods.
The revenue authority allowed these companies to re-export the MBM as per the recommendations of the Custom House, Chattogram, said sources.
Meanwhile, the importers alleged that there was no rule about doing a DNA test before they imported the feeds. Many importers now have to pay a large sum of money as charges, and are on the verge of collapse now.
Custom house sources said show-cause notices were sent to traders for importing goods with false announcements. They will be fined according to the customs law.
Consignments stuck at the Chattogram port were imported by Ayesha Corporation, Spectra Hexa Feed Limited, Promek Agro and Feed Products Ltd, Fishteck BD Ltd, Aquatech Agro BD Ltd, Advance Agrotech Bangladesh, Quality Feeds, RRP Agro Farm, Inter Agro BD, Magnify Agro Ltd, Misham Agro Industries, VNF Agro Ltd, MKA Hatchery, Misham Feed, AG Trading, Piyal Enterprise, Diamond Egg Ltd, Matobbar Traders, Euro Asia International, Arifuss Bangladesh Ltd, GS Animal Science, Anika Agro Products and Falcon Enterprise.
The Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock slapped an import ban on MBM on December 20, 2018.
"Considering the quality of feeds, their price, and social and religious beliefs, the import of MBM, animal protein meal and protein concentration is banned," said the ministry.
Mohammad Fakhrul Alam, commissioner at the Custom House, Chattogram, notified the media about importing feeds containing animal by-products in the name of fish feeds in July last year.
The commissioner at a media briefing said broilers mature and are ready to be sold in the market just two weeks after eating such harmful feeds.
He said some unscrupulous importers were trying to import feeds even after knowing the risk those pose to public health.