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Raise awareness and enforce law to ensure food safety

Published : Sunday, 10 February, 2019 at 12:00 AM  Count : 827
Tarequl Islam Munna

Tarequl Islam Munna

Tarequl Islam Munna

Food security refers the quantity of food that a country requires for a year is stored or secured by other means. Food security is an important issue for a country. Whether by production or by import, food security is not ensured, there is an unstable environment. From rising prices, corruption, political crisis, famine, everything starts, if food security is not guaranteed.

Food, clothing, housing, medical and education etc are the basic rights of a citizen. If you want to improve standard the people of the country should be provided with food security before anything else. People without food are stagnant therefore; the government must be aware of this food safety and make specific laws. If the proper safety of food is not maintained, then a country will not get healthy population and able bodied workers. Though the country is self-dependent in producing grains, it is yet to ensure safe food for all. But by 2021 Bangladesh wants to be a middle income country while there is no substitute for able-bodied manpower.

And food safety is the number two requirement to build an able bodied workforce after food security. Unfortunately, Bangladesh is far more lag behind in ensuring food safety. Bangladesh Safe Food Authority Member Prof Iqbal Rouf Mamun said, "We do not have adequate standard laboratories for testing the colours used in food. Former Secretary Anwar Faruque said there is no special arrangement for transporting agricultural products. As a result, many products are wasted and polluted. Professor Dr Shah Monir Hossain said there are two hundred kinds of diseases, which are directly related to food intake. To ensure safe food, supervision will be done from food production to table all the way.
In creating awareness among people there is no alternative to the availability of nutritious and safe food. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in her message, reiterated her government's commitment to safeguard the health of the people. She also said the theme of the day this year is time-befitting. The present government has undertaken various plans to ensure food safety and availability of nutritious and safe food, she added.

Md Abdus Sobhan, General Secretary of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (BAPA) says "We are not confident in the existing food authority as it is detached from the citizens. Failure of preventing food adulteration and quality presents their failure, as well as that of the government's." "Lack of food safety causes huge number of cancers nowadays as the quality of food including water, fruits and vegetables is below standard. The Food Safety Authority should play a vital role in ensuring its hygiene," he also said.

According to estimates of WHO (World Health Organisation), food borne and waterborne diarrhoeal diseases kill approximately 2.2 million people worldwide annually. A majority of them, approximately 1.9 million, are children. But due to the lax monitoring system in Bangladesh, a reliable assessment of public health impact due to food contamination is unavailable. ICDDR, B, an international health research organisation in Dhaka, has some data available, which show that about 501 patients visit hospitals per day for treatment of diarrhoea that were attributed to food and waterborne causes. A common scenario regarding food contamination reveals nonconformity with sanitary practices in food handling among both producers and retailers, particularly street food vendors.
Meanwhile, the environmental group Paribesh Bachao Andolan (PABA) disclosed horrific findings on the use of formalin, after collecting 263 samples of fruit and other items from different parts in Dhaka. The group found 100 per cent of vermicelli and citrus fruit, 95 per cent of grapes, 91 per cent of bananas and 90 per cent of noodles were contaminated with formalin and other harmful chemical preservatives, as well as 82 per cent of mangoes, 77 per cent of dates, 75 per cent of tomatoes, 60 per cent of eggplant, 59 per cent of apples and 20 per cent of cucumbers are intoxicated by different types of chemicals.

According to the Ministry of Law there are 15 safe food delivery laws and regulations to contain adulteration of food in Bangladesh such as: Penal Code, 1860, Control of Essential Commodities Act, 1956, Food (Special Courts) Act, 1956, Pure Food Ordinance, 1959, Cantonments Pure Food Act, 1966, Pesticide Ordinance, 1971, Special Powers Act, 1974, Fish and Fish Products (Inspection and Control), Ordinance, 1983, The Breast-Milk Substitutes (Regulation of Marketing) Ordinance, 1984, Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution Ordinance 1985, Iodine Deficiency Disorders Prevention Act 1989, Vokta Odhikar Songrokkhon Ain, 2009 [Consumers Rights Protection Act 2009], Sthanio Sarkar (City Corporation) Ain, 2009 [Local Government (City Corporation) Act 2009], Sthanio Sarkar (Paurashava) Ain, 2009 [Local Government (Paurashava) Act, 2009] Mobile Court Ain, 2009 [Mobile Court Act, 2009]. Use of such a large number of laws for a single purpose like food safety is quite unusual and unprecedented in the world.

The tenets of food security law are: food adulteration should be stopped; and food should be prepared in a healthy environment with healthy ingredients. If food is contaminated, those who are engaged or engaged with them should be brought under proper system. They will have to face trial or legal action against them. Food must be properly produced. It is necessary to ensure that food is available without any adulteration in every region of the country. Since food is the number one basic need to a human being among five basics government should take measures to ensure food safety. Simultaneously, everyone must be aware of food security.

Consistent efforts by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, all the ministries and divisions, including the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, are urgently needed to understand the necessity of food security.

The writer is correspondent, American International News Service, columnist and conservator, Wildlife and Environment. He can be reached at:   

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