Make food safe, avoid deaths
A preliminary report made public by the World Health Organisation (WHO) paints a bleak picture where 2 million people die of food-borne diseases globally. Contamination of food comes from bacteria, parasites, viruses and the overuse of harmful chemicals during the production process. As pointed out by the WHO, the industrialisation of the global food supply chain allows for food to be contaminated during trade and while in transit to consumers. Salmonella Typhi, E. coli and norovirus are three diseases that have accounted for killing some 124,000 people worldwide. Indeed, the study found four out of ten Bangladeshis suffering the ill-effects of contaminated food. The worst affected are children.
What has become obvious is that concerted and collective actions are required that involve not only regulatory bodies but also non-state actors to effectively combat the outbreak of such diseases. In Bangladesh, the media has consistently pointed out the dangers of food adulteration and contamination. Yet Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institute (BSTI), the body responsible for protecting consumers' interests in such matters has not been at the forefront of tackling food contamination which causes many kinds of diseases and has killed scores of people. Making foods "safe" for consumption is a public health issue and legislation to that effect has been passed in the form of 'Safe Food Act 2013'. The law is not the problem; rather the political will appears to be conspicuously lacking to enforce the law. Until policymakers are willing to take off their collective gloves and take immediate steps we will continue to suffer the deadly consequences of food contamination.