Ensuring food safety

Published: February 06, 2018 21:44:22 | Updated: February 08, 2018 22:30:28

Never before did the issue of safe food take the centre-stage of public discussion in a manner it has done this year. More so, because from this year, the country has decided to observe the Safe Food Day on February 02. Rallies and seminars were organised highlighting this burning issue having a direct impact on the lives of people. In fact, ensuring food safety has become critical because of failure to enforce the existing laws properly in order to check food adulteration and rein in reckless profiteering attitude of traders. Moreover, there are no set standards and adequate laboratory facilities to put a brake on these heinous malpractices. The government, by setting up the Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA), has, however, given the nationwide campaign for safe food an institutional shape.

Food adulteration may occur through various ways. The number of incidents of intentional adulteration is much higher compared to the unintentional ones in the country. On the other hand, there is a severe shortage of modern food testing laboratories. Existing laboratories of government and non-governmental organisations need to be strengthened to ensure food safety. It's also time for the government to empower the BFSA with adequate human resources and other facilities similar to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the USA.

Healthcare expense has increased several times in recent years mainly due to consumption of adulterated foods. There is a need for setting a safety standard, introducing a community certification system, creating public awareness and making more investments for ensuring food safety. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), around 200 types of diseases are directly related to food adulteration.

It is alarming that substandard, fake and even banned pesticides are allegedly making their way into the market mainly because of lax monitoring. This poses a serious threat to public health. The government has banned as many as 195 hazardous pesticides over the past few years. But many of those banned pesticides are still being used in the country. How can these pesticides, substandard and fake ones, are being marketed under the very nose of agriculture officials working at the grassroots?

The dimension concerning adulterated food is so vast that BSFA alone cannot stem the rot. An integrated approach, under the leadership of BSFA, would be the need of the time. In fact, mass awareness about do's and don'ts on food safety in every nook and cranny of the country has to be created. For this, the BSFA should start a huge campaign through various ways. It can print attractive posters and other campaign materials advising people in simple and easy language as to what they must avoid as food. The posters must be put up for public view in public places, rural markets, educational institutions and bus stations so that common people can apply these instructions in their daily food habit. Such campaigns may be supported by audio-visual materials made available to various social clubs and recreational centres. 

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