A system for record keeping and documentation of food inspection and enforcement activities needs to be put in place. The laws in place requires implementation with full force and hurdles in implementing the existing laws against adulteration to be eliminated
Tasmiah Nuhiya Ahmed
Food safety and Bangladesh
Ensuring safe food is recognised as a primary concern for the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh with a view to plummeting the burden of food-borne diseases on public health. It has been observed by the World Food Programme that notwithstanding significant economic development in Bangladesh, approximately a quarter of the inhabitants is incapable to avail safe and nutritious food. When in a country, available food fails to meet safe and nutritional requirement of the given population, there prevails food insecurity. Food safety is considered as a prerequisite to guarantee overall food security in Bangladesh by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and World Health Organization. Under the FAO Country Programming Framework (2014-2018) , improving the market linkages, value addition, and quality and safety of the food system has been marked as one of the priority areas of FAO in Bangladesh.
Food adulteration has reached to an alarming level in Bangladesh. The sufferings of the consumers in Bangladesh due to food contamination has made their life agonized and hence there is a crying need in Bangladesh for regulatory efforts to control this unethical practice.
Article 15 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh (Constitution) states that it shall be a fundamental responsibility of the state to secure to the citizens provision of the basic necessities of life including food. Article 18 of the Constitution states that the State shall raise the level of nutrition and improve public health as its primary duties. Both the provisions speaks up for food safety requirements for the citizens of Bangladesh.
At present, the food control system in Bangladesh involves numerous ministries and agencies. Food safety is governed by a number of laws and regulations in Bangladesh. Despite having these laws in force, the food contamination and adulteration condition of Bangladesh is continuing to be a serious public health concern.
Unsafe food results into numerous acute and life-long diseases. An evaluation shows that about 2.2 million people annually die due to food-borne and waterborne diarrhoeal diseases. The dreadful part is that out of this 2.2 million people, 1.9 million are children. Data collected from the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDRB), an international health research organization located in Dhaka, indicates that the number of hospital visits per day for treatment of diarrhoea due to food and water borne causes is very distressful. Over-all situation on food contamination in Bangladesh unfortunately reveals an extensive nonconformity with hygienic practice in food handling in Bangladesh.
The Food Safety Act 2013 has also been enacted in Bangladesh through repealing and re-enacting the existing outdated laws in this regards. This 2013 Act has been enacted to form an authority that would ensure generous efforts to the food control agencies, food business operators and people of the country towards achieving the landmark goal of founding a Modern and Technological Food Safety System in Bangladesh as required for the government’s vision 2021. Accordingly under the 2013 Act, the Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) has been formed in 2015.
Regardless of these initiatives taken by the government, the food inspection and enforcement system in Bangladesh still needs to be strengthened to address the significant food safety issues that are prevailing in Bangladesh. Framing of inspection manuals, protocols, guidelines and checklists for inspectors to use during operation is immensely required. A system for record keeping and documentation of food inspection and enforcement activities needs to be put in place. The laws in place requires
implementation with full force and hurdles in implementing the existing laws against adulteration to be eliminated.
It is a matter of great concern that although noticeable progress in the economic, health and social arenas has taken place in Bangladesh, remarkable improvements in the nutritional status of children and women is till missing. Being a mother of a seventeen months old child, my main concern is the health of my child. I am unable to ensure safe food for my child as it is merely impossible to find out safe food in the market place.
Fruits available in the market are full of adulteration. Fish, meat, vegetables, spices are adulterated too. Hence I urge before the government to take more effective initiatives to resolve this matter with greater care and efficiency.