HOW unsafe is the food we eat and how fringe-touching the drives against its adulterers have been were intensely dwelt on at the BSRM-The Daily Star roundtable on Saturday. Crystallised opinions of experts formed through watching the long-standing malady were voiced in the shape of recommendations.
Considering there has been much talk but little action, preventative or remedial, excepting by way of lopsided or piecemeal crackdowns on bazaars, food factories or restaurants, the speakers called for urgent, systematic and sustained counter-action. This must address the root of the problem, ensuring an uncontaminated supply chain. It is critical, therefore, that the government controls import and use of formalin and chemicals in the first place to be able to stave off adulteration.
The recommendations fall in two categories. In the first bunch come the following: Showing political will at the highest level, enforcing law stringently, determining the extent of adulteration, monitoring imported fruits, proper food labeling and developing a fool-proof chemical-testing kit. The suggestions in this category can be implemented in the short run provided the first one regarding political will gets duly administered, ensuring coordination between the agencies involved in the process.
To counter the impunity culture severe deterrent punishment against the guilty and rewarding those who are compliant could prove effectively remedial.
The second category of suggestions such as launching social movement, promoting values of hygiene, food safety and encouraging ethical business practices are matters of social engineering. This calls for some pioneering and focused leadership.