Hamdard Laboratories faces allegation centering ‘Rooh Afza’

    Rooh Afza, Hamdard                                                     
    Image: Agencies

    Hamdard Laboratories, a company which has been selling one of its products named ‘Rooh Afza’ for decades claiming it to be world’s healthiest halal drink made with 36 types of fresh fruit juices, valuable medicinal plants and fresh flower extracts has been accused of cheating millions of its customers in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and the Middle East through false claims. While Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) said, ingredients mentioned in ‘Rooh Afza’ product labels and advertisements do not exist, health experts say, consuming ‘Rooh Afza’ may cause serious health issue to a large number of people, particularly those suffering from diabetes. Managing Director of Hamdard, Dr. Hakim Muhammad Yusuf Harun Bhuiyan has sough apology in writing for such false promotion of the product, while according to Dhaka-based vernacular daily Kalbela, Dr. Harun had offered bribe to authorities concerned for keeping the matter out of attention of the people.

    Dhaka South City Corporation has submitted written complaints to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Food Department seeking appropriate legal action against Hamdard Laboratories for such serious offense.

    It may be mentioned here that ‘Rooh Afza’ has been a popular drink in different parts of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan for more than a century. In 1906, Hakim Hafiz Abdul Majid, an Unani physician, established his dispensary in Old Delhi. In 1907, he introduced ‘Rooh Afza’ to the market. In a short time, it gained people’s trust and huge popularity. After the partition of India in 1947, Majid’s eldest son remained in India while the younger son migrated to Pakistan, where he established Hamdard (Waqf) Laboratories in Karachi. Subsequently, its branch was also established in erstwhile East Pakistan. After independence of Bangladesh, the activities of the organization were continued under the name of Hamdard Laboratories (Waqf) Bangladesh. It is currently governed by a board of trustees. Among the many products of Hamdard, ‘Rooh Afza’ is at the top of consumer demand. Especially in the month of Ramadan, the sale of this syrup increases several folds.

    According to Kalbela, Dhaka South City Corporation’s food inspector Kamrul Hasan collected ‘Rooh Afza’ from the market and sent or laboratory test. The results showed massive discrepancies in the actual ingredient with the information used in the promotion of the sale of the product. Although Hamdard laboratories claim of using many natural ingredients including healthy fruit syrup in the promotion of ‘Rooh Afza’, in reality there is none.

    It is seen in the documents, Dhaka South City Corporation’s safe food inspector. Kamrul Hasan recently collected Rooh Afza from the market and got it tested in the laboratory. The results show discrepancies in the actual material with the information used in the promotion of the sale of Rooh Afza.

    The food inspector of the city corporation filed a case in 2018 after receiving evidence of fraud. The accused in the case is Hamdard Managing Director Hakim Md. Yusuf Harun Bhuiyan voluntarily admitted the guilt in writing and paid only BDT 400,000 as fine.

    However, Hamdard later filed an appeal and the court ordered the refund of the fine. On February 19, the concerned officer of the city corporation sent a letter to the Food Safety Authority to appeal against the matter. After this, the Hamdard authorities started to prevent the appeal. Even on behalf of the company, the concerned officer of the city corporation has offered a bribe.


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